Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Take the Blinders Off!

Daniel 4:4 - 8

4 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. 5 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. 6 So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me. 7 When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers[b]and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me. 8 Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)

As I read these verses, I found myself thinking about verse eight.  For the second time, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that bothered him.  For the second time, he first turned to the wise men, enchanters, magicians, and others that let him down last time.  For the second time, he had to wait for Daniel to do the work.  My first thought?  Some people never learn.  

Then the king tells us that Daniel's Babylonian name is Belteshazzar because he has the spirit of holy gods in him.  Totally got that wrong.  He has God on his side and the spirit of God was in him.  God gave Daniel the gift of interpreting dreams.  God has kept Daniel and his friends safe.  King Nebuchadnezzar sees only what the blinders show him, but as one of God's children, I feel lucky to have the insight that the king didn't have.  ...was blind, but now I see.  - Amazing Grace

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Good Graces

Daniel 4: 1-3
1 [a]King Nebuchadnezzar,
To the nations and peoples of every language, who live in all the earth:
May you prosper greatly!

2 It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.

3 How great are his signs,
how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an eternal kingdom;
his dominion endures from generation to generation.

At the beginning of this chapter, King Nebuchadnezzar decides to reveal another dream he had.  Knowing how strong Daniel's faith is, he acknowledges God with praises.  He tells the nations he is over about the wonders of God and how awesome he is.  This man, a heathen, praises Daniel's God.  Is it because he really is impressed with God?  Is it because he wants something?  Why would someone who doesn't love God, spread his praises?  This, my friends, is called change.  King Nebuchanezzar's words in verse three sound more like King David's psalms.  He is changing, but he is not totally convinced yet, as we will see later.  But he respects Daniel and wants to be in Daniel's good graces.  He does this probably to make sure that the God who blesses Daniel will bless him.  Maybe he isn't totally convined yet, but why take that chance?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Only God

Daniel 3: 26 - 30

26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”
   So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
 28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”
 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

Can't you just see the headlines in the Babylon business section of the news? Was everyone talking about the appointments of the three young men from Jerusalem?  I think we all would talk about the craziness that had just happened.  How King Nebuchadnezzar had an idol built and expected everyone to bow down to it.  How he got mad when Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego would not bow and kept their loyalty to God.  How the king threw his fit and got thrown in the fire.  But especially how there was rumored to be a fourth man walking in the fire with the three others, but only three came out unharmed.  Not one hair singed, nor did they even smell like smoke.  Now to me that is the miracle.
Yesterday, Mike smoked a turkey for someone.  I was so hungry every time the door opened because the fragrance of the smoked flavor was wafting about.  But even more so, just because I walked out to check on him and the turkey a few times, or to get something from the garage, my clothes smelled of smoke too.  How can you be near or in a fire and not smell like smoke?  Only God can do make that happen.
God changed those men's lives forever.  Even the king gave an order that no one could say anything against God without punishment.  Change is a great thing, and usually comes at a large price.  That price is not just an outward change, meaning that other people notice right off.  The price has to be an inward change that may be only significant to the one making the change, unnoticeable to others, at first.  But if God's change truly takes place, only later will others see what a transformation has been made.  And only God can and you can make the change happen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Beginning of Change

Daniel 3:24 - 25

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
   They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”
 25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

The book of Daniel is mainly about Daniel, but this chapter is about his friends.  This chapter is about how God is with you when the bad things happen and how he can change opinions about you and him in an instant.  This is one of them.  King Nebuchadnezzar had Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego thrown into a roaring furnace that killed the men that threw them in.  It should have instantly consumed these three godly men too.  But instead, the king watched and realized that a) the men did not die and b) there were more than three of them.  He stated that the fourth man looked like a son of the gods.  Well of course he did!  He was actually sent from God!  In the king's mind, there were many gods, not just our Holy God.  When the king realizes something supernatural has taken place, he is amazed.  God opened the king's mind to what really is, not what he expects.  

Do you look for what really is, or what you expect God to do?  I think we all just expect certain things and take God for granted.  We pray, expecting God to answer yes to whatever we want.  We expected him to heal our loved-ones, keep them safe, help us all to make the right choices, etc.  But as we all know, God has three answers for us...Yes; No; and Not right now.  We ask and plead and want it now, but we don't always get it.  This story is not actually about the three godly friends of Daniel, it is about the start of changing one man's heart, King Nebuchadnezzar.

Monday, November 21, 2011

God and His Blessings

Daniel 3:19 - 23

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.

Sadly, sometimes our anger gets the better of us.  We hear everyday of some violent act between people and the results and consequences of it. We hear of dictators and kings of countries giving orders for genocide and unspeakable acts against women.  King Nebuchadnezzar was no different.  Daniel's three young friends were taking a stand against the idol and him and the king got mad.  Really mad.  He didn't care about anything except showing his power against those who went against them.  As a result, the soldiers that took Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to their punishment were killed by the hot furnace.  
A fiery death has to be one of the worst types of death for medical examiners to deal with.  Trying to find evidence of who the victim is, how they were burned, makes it difficult.  Not to mention the memory that they will forever have from their senses, seeing, smelling, hearing.  Yeah, I know, it's graphic.  

But God had other plans for these men.  They weren't lucky, like some would think.  They were blessed.  This week, look at your life.  Each of us is blessed. No one will ever take that away from you.  Only you can decided if something is a blessing or not.  So look around.  What are you most thankful for this week?  Focus on that.  Stay positive.  Even if it looks impossible and bleak, it probably isn't.  You just have to make it to the other side.  Keep your eyes there.  Keep your eyes on God and his blessings.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lifting Us Up

He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting
in the LORD.

Psalm 112:7 (NIV)

Most days are better than some.  When the good times are here, we are grateful for all we have.  But when the times are bad, what do you do?  We turn to the Lord.  No matter what.  I receive a verse-a-day through my email (  This was the verse I received. We always fear the worst and hope for the best.  Sometimes the best is not good.  I always fear what could happen and what does happen, usually doesn't seem so bad.  This verse is a big help.  This verse is talking about a righteous man and how he has God in everything he does.  How he depends on him, loves him, keeping himself upstanding and humble.  I am trying to give my fears and my worries to God.  It is so hard to do, but I keep in constant prayer with Him.  I am talking, walking and seeking during this dark time, but I know that God is in the situation and is keeping us safe.  It's not easy being in Satan's sights.  But we have all been there some time or another.  Keep us in your prayers, that is what we need from you.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Not Gonna Bow!

Daniel 3:8 - 18

At this time some astrologers[b] came forward and denounced the Jews. 9 They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May the king live forever! 10 Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, 11 and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. 12 But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”

13 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and 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, pipe 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 him, “King 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 deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[c] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

When I was a teenager, I loved Russ Taff's music.  He is a Christian singer who first toured with Amy Grant, and later the Gaither Vocal Band.  He based a song on these verses, that I still hear in my head when I read about idols.  This song, Not Gonna Bow, even today, plays a big part of my thinking when it comes to idols.

Not Gonna Bow 
Michael Landau/James Newton Howard

Ninety feet tall and nine feet wide
Solid gold – “it must be a god”
They were told
“when you hear the music play
Fall on your knees and begin to pray”
They were told
But when the trumpet sounded
The whole world bowed
Three men stood there all alone
– they said

Not gonna bow to your idols
Not gonna bow, oh no
Not gonna bow to your idols
I won’t bow down

All Bobby wanted was just to fit in
To be accepted he must act like them
He said no
“everybody does it – so what’s the fuss? 
Come on, Bobby – won’t you be like us?”
He said no
And when the pressure came
He watched them bow
Bobby stood there all alone
- he said


We don’t have to give in to it
We can choose to go against the crowd

This story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego teaches me that it is okay to stand up for your beliefs, especially if it is God's way and not the world's way.  I  think these verses, and this song is one of the greatest stories for teens today.  God wants all of us to stand up for Him and for what we truly believe. It is hard with the peer pressures of the day, but it is possible, especially if we support each other and help each other as a family should.  This is one good reason to have small groups of support for us, and to have your children in Youth Group and activities of your church.  They can make lasting friendships and a firm foundation of beliefs.  Join a small group or start one.  It will be make the difference in eternity!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Daniel 3:1-7

 1King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide,[a] and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2 He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. 3 So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it.

4 Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: 5As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”
 7 Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the nations and peoples of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

We don't know how much time has lapsed, but obviously it isn't too much.  Daniel had given the King the meaning to his dream and now he (the king) is having a golden image made.  And not just any golden image, a huge one.  The king decided that at the dedication, the nation should bow down to the idol.  

Growing up in a Christian home, I really don't understand statues that people make into idols.  I understand how someone can be deceived by a talking serpent, or an idealistic movie star, but an inanimate object?  If it can not talk to me and give me it's ideas and sway my opinion, then I really don't give it a thought.  I try to keep my thoughts on God and what he wants me to do.  Usually in my family if you tell us to do something, that is just an excuse for us not to do it.  But, if God is my focus, then I won't bow down to the world's idols.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Daniel's Reward

Daniel 2:44 - 49

 44 “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. 45 This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.
   “The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”
 46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. 47 The king said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.”
 48 Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. 49 Moreover, at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court.

Daniel explained the meaning of the dream to King Nebuchadnezzar.  When all was revealed, the king payed him honor and gave him many things.  He made Daniel be over all of Babylon and put him in charge of the wise men.  Daniel did not forget his friends.  He asked if they could be overseers of Babylon.  

When you do not understand something, isn't it a relief when you do know the meaning?  It frustrates me when people think they know what it is all about, but in honesty, they are wrong.  The wrong may be something they were told and chose to believe, or it was a miscommunication, but in either case jumping to conclusions until all sides of the story are in can be frustrating.  When you hear the whole story, then the light bulb can come on and you can wade through and find the facts.  If you are lucky enough to have a mentor, then it makes it easy.  But for most of us, we chose to believe things that are not true and usually do not want all the facts because we rely on half truths.   

King Nebuchadnezzar heard what Daniel said and knew it was true, because he did not tell anyone what his dream was about.  He lavished great gifts on Daniel and trusted him.  Daniel relied on God for this and because of his faithfulness, was rewarded in kind.  

Friday, November 4, 2011


Daniel 2:36-43

36 “This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king. 37 Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; 38 in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.
 39 “After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. 40 Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. 41 Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. 42 As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.

I am so glad I do not have to interpret dreams.  Kingdoms represented, countries torn apart, and such bad news to give.  I would rather people come to realizations on their own.  I do not want to spell it out for them.  That's why   I am not in the psychic business.  

As Daniel described what the statue was, a lot of emphasis was on the feet and toes.  At first I thought that was strange, but then I realized that your feet are a foundation.  No matter the size, they help you stand up.  Most of you know that I have small feet.  My Dad's mom had even smaller (and wider) feet, and my Dad has little feet too.  But, we usually stay upright and they get us where we need to go.  I just started a new job a week ago and after the first half shift, my feet hurt!  I am not use to standing on them for more than a few minutes.  I did not sit down but one time during the shift and my dogs were barking!  But then next two shifts, my feet took it in stride.  I didn't even notice if they were in pain or not until I got home.  The more you stand on them, the more support.  The more I stand on God's Word, the more support I get from Him and his book.  My foundation is something that I try to keep a focus on.  For with my foundation is my faith, my joy and my hope.  The hard part is trying to help my family with their find their foundation.  I think I could have done a better job at it, but, I see some rewards already.  Next week, Allie and I are going to Cincinnati Christian University in a couple of weeks for our first college visit.  How exciting!  Her foundation is starting to grow.  It may not be her choice in college, but she is excited to consider it.  And, so am I.  

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Daniel's Humble Pie

Daniel 2:28-35

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 were lying in bed are these:
 29 “As Your Majesty was lying there, 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 anyone else alive, but so that Your Majesty may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind.
 31 “Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. 32 The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. 34 While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.

As I read this portion of Daniel, Chapter 2, what I thought was the most interesting part of it was that Daniel did not take credit for any of it.  He said that God showed him the vision so he could explain it, not to make himself greater than anyone else.  How often to we take the praise (or blame) for something that was not of our own doing?  Daniel, from the beginning of this journey, has never taken credit for anything.  In doing so, he made himself likeable to the king.  Isn't that what we all want?  To make people like us.  We usually go about it the wrong way, by taking the credit for things to make us look better.  But Daniel has the correct idea.  Give God the glory and humble himself.  That is what we all need to do.  Have a piece of humble pie.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Never Impossible

Daniel 2:24-27

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,..."

After Daniel was praised and thanked God, he immediately went to the commander of the guard and asked him to not kill anyone and take him to Nebuchadnezzar.  That's a lot to ask from a prisoner.  How many times does the prisoner ask for favors without giving something in return?  But Arioch was on Daniel's side.  He had already presented Daniel and his three friends to the king.  But now, Daniel took what God had revealed to him and wanted an audience with the king.  

The king accepted and wanted to know if he knew what the dream was.  Daniel started out saying that no one can explain that mystery.  How could anyone know any part of the dream when the king wouldn't reveal any of it to them?   It was more a trick.  God wouldn't have any of it and showed Daniel the vision.    When up against the wall, sometimes divine intervention is all we have.  Have you noticed that when we think it's impossible, God comes through and as you look back on the situation later you realize how simple the answer really was? God's way is not always about impossible, but about possibilities.  I am thankful for that.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Thankful Month

Daniel 2:17-23

17 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 deposes kings and raises up others.
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, 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.”

Daniel was concerned.  He had heard that the king wanted to kill everyone because he couldn't find anyone to interpret his dream.  Daniel bought some time for himself and his friends.  He then asked the his friends to plead with God that they have revealed to them the king's dream and save them.  God gave Daniel the knowledge of the dream.  Then what did Daniel do?  He stopped and praised God.  He didn't run to the king and take the credit, he thanked God for his wisdom and his revelation.  

Sometimes we get so excited we forget to thank others, don't we?  And especially, we get an answered prayer and then forget who made it happen.  We all do it.  I try, even the little things, like paying the bills, or a good day, to thank God for them.  And, I feel guilty when days later I realized, Oh, I forgot to thank God, and then I quickly send up a prayer of thanks.  

As I just wrote that, I realized that this is the first day of November, or in my mind, the Thankful Month.  American's celebrate Thanksgiving this month and I am grateful for all we have.  Last night, Mike came home and told me that he now officially on mandatory overtime.  This means that starting Friday and through Thanksgiving, he may have to work almost everyday.  He can take a couple of days off for things already planned, but he will be working a lot.  He is not crazy about it, but he did confess that he wasn't too upset.  I see the sunny side in everything, and thought, Yay!  that will pay some bills and Christmas!  As we talked last night, I thanked God that we both have jobs.  Not everyone does.  So, this month, let's focus on being thankful and making sure everyone is aware they have something to be thankful for.  It will make you feel better.