Monday, January 30, 2012

Trust God

Daniel 6:15-16

15 Then the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, “Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.”
 16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”

How horrible King Darius must have felt.  But a law is a law.  For Daniel, he must of been praying furiously.  The group of men must have been feeling smug.  They finally got Daniel right where they wanted him.  Down in the lion's den.  Which person(s) are you feeling like today?  King Darius for letting others mislead him?  The advisers for pulling one over on someone, or Daniel, being caught in the middle of something and not able to control the situation.  The good news is, that even though Daniel couldn't control what was happening, his God, the Living God, already had it under control.  We just have to let God have the situation and his will will play out.  How cool is that?  So turn over your troubles, situations and grief to him and let him do his will.  God will take over and you can be sure that you will come out okay.  It may be scary for a while, but as we are learning in our sermon series this month, we have to trust God like Daniel.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Listen to Yourself

Daniel 6:11-14
11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”
   The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”
 13 Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” 14 When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.

That last sentence must have made the men out to get Daniel mad.  King Darius, who liked Daniel, had been tricked.  For thirty days anyone who prayed to anything or anyone other than King Darius would be thrown into the lions' den.  They then watched and waited for Daniel to pray, three times that day and caught him.  He agreed until he found out it was Daniel that was disobedient.  When he heard this, the king was upset and tried everything he could think of to save Daniel.  In our Sunday School class the other day, we discussed this.  It was stated by our group leader, that he did not understand that why as king, Darius just didn't repeal the law.  I think it may be because it may have made him appear weak.  
When you do something and realize it is wrong, don't you want to fix the problem as soon as possible.  He tried, but Darius had already let these men dictate to him a new law, and realized it was bad advice.  But it was too late.  God wants us to seek advice, from him, from our elders and family.  But beware.  God and your gut are the best at instinctive advice you have.  I tell my kids and husband, if you have a problem or a choice, listen to yourself.  It usually tells you exactly what you need and should do, because you know, all others want to push their agenda.  Go for the gut!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Talk to God

Daniel 6:10
10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

Some rituals are not meant to be stopped.  Each day, I get up, start making lunches for the day, get the kids up for school, see them and Mike off.  Then depending on my day, I do my devotion or get ready for work.  There is certain things I do.  I always take a shower in the morning.  I read emails, Bible verses, and plan my day.  I pray for my family and others.  Daniel had a ritual.  He prayed toward Jerusalem three times a day.  And everyone knew it.  So when the wisemen, administrators and magicians decided to get him.  This is what they did.  That pinpointed that one area of prayer and persuaded the king to make a law to only pray to him.  

That didn't stop Daniel.  It would not have stopped me either.  I pray a lot during a day. (! Thessalonians 5:17 says..."pray without ceasing.")  It's a habit.  I hear a siren, I pray.  I get word that someone hurts or is sick, I pray.  But I don't go to a prayer closet, get down reverently on my knees and pray for a period of time.  Do you?  Daniel didn't let this decree stop him.  He knew it was wrong and he knew that it was God, not the king, who had got him through all the times before.  He knew from the time he was very young that the Lord Most High is to be exalted above everyone else and that God listens.  Daniel knew what the world doesn't.  God wants us to talk to him.  God listens to our needs.  God wants that conversation.  Daniel gave his relationship with God an important place in his life.  He made sure he talked with him three times a day.  

Is there anyone you talk to three times a day, every day?  I know I talk with my kids and husband that often.  I don't talk to my parents everyday, but I'm okay with that.  I do talk to God a lot during every day. So today, make it a point to talk to the most important people in your life and make God one of them.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What's Your Agenda?

Daniel 6:6-9
6 So these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said: “May King Darius live forever! 7 The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. 8 Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” 9 So King Darius put the decree in writing.
Sunday during Sunday School, this story was mentioned as part of our story.  It is funny how when we trust people, we do not think they would ever do anything to lead us astray.  At least not on purpose.  But, we are not a people of honesty.  Most people have an agenda of their own and doesn’t look out for others.  Many times, I have been chided because I “let people walk all over me.”  People think I am a door mat or weak.  But I don’t think that.  I always try and look at the big picture and see what really other people want to do and how much it will hurt others.  Normally, I go along with things because I don’t want to fight or it is not a big deal.  If I am passionate about it, I will stand up for whatever I need.  This shows that I too, sometimes have my own selfish agenda. 
King Darius believed in his advisors, administrators, prefects, and all.  He thought they would always give him good advice.  But he did not realize that the law they wanted him to put in affect would be against one of his favorite people.  He just willingly agreed to enforce this law.  It is crazy for any of us to think that someone would pray to us.  Why would you pray to me?  I cannot do a thing for you.  In fact, I am sure I have and will let you down.  God, on the other hand, has never let you down.  Whether you chose to believe in him, or believe and trust him, he will always step up and do what is needed for you.  Not what you need, mind you, but what is needed for the situation.  Sometimes that gets us in trouble because we are expecting something totally different.  But, he is the true one you can trust.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Being a Christian in the Workplace

Daniel 6:1-5

 1 [a]It seemed good to Darius to appoint 120 satraps over the kingdom, that they would be in charge of the whole kingdom, 2 and over them three commissioners (of whom Daniel was one), that these satraps might be accountable to them, and that the king might not suffer loss. 3 Then this Daniel began distinguishing himself [b]among the commissioners and satraps because [c]he possessed an extraordinary spirit, and the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom. 4 Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to [d]government affairs; but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him. 5 Then these men said, “We will not find any ground of accusation against this Daniel unless we find it against him with regard to the law of his God.”

Up until now, Daniel has shown all the sign of being a great man whom we all would be glad to know, talk to, and help.  But this one verse shows that Daniel has a human side..."  Daniel began distinguishing himself [b]among the commissioners and satraps..."  Distinguishing himself among his peers and King Darius did not make him friends, did it.  I am not saying that you have to be like your peers.  I try to give everyone else the same consideration as I want from them.  I try not to gossip, criticize, keep my head up and do what I need to do at my job.  I think Daniel did the same thing and it made those under him in position dislike him.  They tried to find fault with him and realized that they couldn't.  They went looking for the bad in him.  It didn't work.  They did realize that they would have to look at how he dealt with his job and with God.  Isn't that something a lot of deal with?  It is hard to be a Christian in a non-Christian environment, isn't it?  
Lord, grant me your grace for today.  Give me the attitude I need to be your messenger in my job.  I thank you that I have a job and I praise you for it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Handwriting on the Wall

Daniel 5:24-30

 24 Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription.
 25 “This is the inscription that was written:
 26 “Here is what these words mean:
   Mene[e]: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
 27 Tekel[f]: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
 28 Peres[g]: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
 29 Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.
 30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians,[h] was slain, 31 and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.[i]

King Belshazzar realized too late that the handwriting on the wall was the end for him.  We all

seem to realize too late (at times) that the path we are on is not the best one.  We all need to 

step back at times and see the bigger picture.  For us humans, that is sometimes impossible.  

I am not a big visionary.  I have a fault for not seeing what is to come, what may come, and all the 

possibilities around me.  That's why I have great people around me.  They bring things to the 

table that I wouldn't even dream of.   I do learn from the mistakes of others and do not have to 

make my own mistakes "just to see if it will happen again".  

Daniel read the writing and told him that the king would be dethroned and the kingdom would be 

pulled apart.  That is what happened.  Belshazzar gave Daniel his reward, and that night, he was

killed.  What can we learn from this story?  Sometimes we need to step back and see the bigger 

picture before God has to send a clear message.  

Lord, open my eyes and let me see clear, the path you want me on and the decisions you 

want me to make.  I love you and want to serve only you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Learning from Parental Mistakes

Daniel 5:18-24

18 “Your Majesty, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor. 19 Because of the high position he gave him, all the nations and peoples of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled. 20 But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. 21 He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like the ox; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes.
 22 “But you, Belshazzar, his son,[d] have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. 23 Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways. 24 Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription.

Learning from your parents mistakes.  King Belshazzar's father was a prideful man, thinking he created his kingdom and accepted all the glory.  But God, in his wisdom, showed King Nebuchadnezzar who really is in charge and the king finally acknowledged the Lord Most High.  King Belshazzar watched and saw, but did not learn from that.  Maybe it was the young and his sense of "it will never happen to me, I'm invincible!" Whatever it is, it seems that children take their parent's mistakes to the next level.  Not all of them.  Some do their best not to make the same mistakes.  
   When we are trying to help or correct Timm, he always asks me the question that drives me crazy..."How do you know?"  Seriously?  How do I know what will happen or what happened when I was in that situation?  Maybe because I'm older, wiser, more experienced and have been through it?  Some never learn, some have to go through it themselves no matter what.  I guess that is how God looks at us when we mess up.  I never seem to get certain things, even when I read the Bible and see what is to come or what the consequence will be.  Sometimes we never learn.  I pray today that I will break that pattern and do as my Heavenly Father asks.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Parental Teaching

Daniel 5:12-17

12 He did this because Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.”
 13 So Daniel was brought before the king, and the king said to him, “Are you Daniel, one of the exiles my father the king brought from Judah? 14 I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you and that you have insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom. 15 The wise men and enchanters were brought before me to read this writing and tell me what it means, but they could not explain it. 16 Now I have heard that you are able to give interpretations and to solve difficult problems. If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”
 17 Then Daniel answered the king, “You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means.

So in verse 12, the queen tells King Belshazzar of Daniel, whom his father relied on to tell the meaning of his visions and dreams.  Wisely, the young king heeded her advice and brought Daniel in.  The king gave Daniel the same spiel about how he would be made third highest ruler in the kingdom if he could read the writing on the wall.  Apparently, this did not impress Daniel.  He told him to keep his gifts and reward others.  
So what motivated Daniel?  It wasn't riches or power.  I think it was just the satisfaction of following God's word.  As a child he was taught the importance that his family placed on God and following His teachings.  He truly took all that, kept it in his heart and lived his life through that.  As a parent, I feel so inadequate sometimes.  I am not doing justice to God or his teachings.  All I can do is keep trying.  I try to give advice when needed, to pray, to show my kids what God expects of me, but sometimes I am not sure they are listening. Then other times, they surprise me!  Those are the times I know I might be on the right track.  Teaching my kids that they do not have to be motivated by power or riches is a goal is hard.  But I keep at it.  I pray for them and pray that each day brings them closer to God and a personal relationship that I long for them to have with Him.  That's what God wants us to do.  Pray for each other and not expect anything in return.  It's not about what others give you, it's about storing your treasures in heaven, right?  That's what we are striving for.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Adventures through God

Daniel 5:7-12

 7 The king summoned the enchanters, astrologers[b] and diviners. Then he said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”
 8 Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king what it meant. 9 So King Belshazzar became even more terrified and his face grew more pale. His nobles were baffled.
 10 The queen,[c] hearing the voices of the king and his nobles, came into the banquet hall. “May the king live forever!” she said. “Don’t be alarmed! Don’t look so pale! 11 There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners. 12 He did this because Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.”

Why is it that when we get in a predicament that we can't figure out how to get out of, we immediately offer the best of the best to those who can?  Experts, specialist, and such doesn't always have the answers.  My family and I watched the last Indiana Jones movie over the weekend.  I grew up with those movies, and this one did not disappointment.  But, because it had been about twenty years since the last one, I found myself saying (to no one in particular), yep, that's how Indy is.  This comment referred to the fact that always, always, always, Indy rarely had a plan, he was forever "making it up as I go!"  It always made me laugh, because I am that way.  I don't mind going where God wants and doing what he wants because I look at it as an adventure.  My daughter, on the other hand, has to have a plan.  She is a junior in high school and wants to know where she's going to college, what her major is and plan as much out as possible before she starts her senior year.  I love that about her.  She totally cracks me up about it.  I honestly admire her, but I have no idea where this comes from.  
So I guess this devotion today took a totally different turn.  King Belshazzar is just another adventure that Daniel took on.  When the king's father, Nebuchadnezzar, took Daniel and his friends all those years ago, he didn't know what was going to happen.  But instead of fighting it, he accepted what happened and kept his faith in God.  He knew God knew what he was doing.  That is what I try to do.  It's hard when you feel like you are doing the worst job and barely keeping your head above water though.  Prayer, devotions, and talking about it is the best way to get through it.  God promised to take care of us and our needs if we trust him.  His plan may not be laid out for us, but that is okay.  Sometimes a need to know basis teaches us patience, frugality, and contentment.  As Paul said in Philippians 4:11-13, " 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength."  I pray I can someday be like Paul.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Paranormal Activity?

Daniel 5:1-6
King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. 2 While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father[a] had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. 3 So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. 4 As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.
 5 Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. 6 His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking.7 The king summoned the enchanters, astrologers[b] and diviners. Then he said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”
 8 Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king what it meant. 9 So King Belshazzar became even more terrified and his face grew more pale. His nobles were baffled.  

Is it funny that when I was reading this, the television show Ghost Hunters came to mind?  This is a show where people use night cameras and try and capture paranormal activity on tape.   In our house, when something falls, or a door opens or whatever, we don't blame the dog, we holler "Paranormal activity!"  We as a society try very hard to explain everything.  Whether it is our actions, the weather, or things we don't understand.  And if we don't understand, we explain it away with thoughts of the unknown.

But can you imagine King Belshazzar's confused mind when this hand appeared and started writing on the wall.  I think I would have ran away scared.  I can't imagine seeing a floating hand.  This was scary to the king.  Having things that can't be explained are nothing new, but as a leader, you need to be prepared for anything.  I was asked a question, "What if you don't know the answer?  I said,  "I'll find it out and get back to you."  That should be true to all of us.  As parents, teachers, leaders, don't lie and make something up, let them know you don't know and follow through with the answer.  It sure makes life a lot easier!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pride Goeth Before a Fall.

Daniel 4:34 - 36

 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.
35 All the peoples of the earth
   are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
   with the powers of heaven
   and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
   or say to him: “What have you done?”
 36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37 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.

The most important line in this, the fourth chapter of Daniel is the last sentence.  And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.  What a revelation that King Nebuchadnezzar found.  He who thought he was the greatest, set up idols, threw men in furnances because they didn't obey him, was made to fall farther than most of us can imagine.  He became like an animal, with no sanity, living on grass and looking like something out of a horror movie.  
King Nebuchadnezzar learned that God has dominion and can take power away and give power back.  The King of heaven did this to show him that Nebuchadnezzar is not any different than any other creation of this earth.  So if a king can turn his heart from pride to one that is humble, so can I. 
Lord, take my pride away and help me to always be humble so that all can see your glory.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Daniel 4:29 - 33
 29 Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 he 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?”
 31 Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”
 33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.

Being puffed up and taking the credit for things undeserved get you in trouble. We all like to be recognized for the good we do, but I don't like taking credit for things that are not really of my doing.  Like the song I sang on Sunday.  This song has been in my repertoire for 25 years!  I praise God that I can sing this song well.  I am blessed that it touched many people.  That is God's doing, not mine. I just am a messenger.  I say thank you for the compliments, but take no credit.  I am just the instrument.   
King Nebuchadnezzar didn't realize this.    He said (to paraphrase)  Isn't this city great that I built to show my greatness and power.  What an ego!  What can we learn from this story?  We need to remember that pride comes before the fall.  And fall he did.  I can't imagine what he really looked like, but it would have scared me.  We should all pray that we keep our pride in check and remember that God creates all things and the credit goes to him.  Just as Tim Tebow bows in the end zone of a football field after a win to thank God, we too, should always bow to the Lord of all creation in reverence and thankfulness for all we have and been given.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It Came Upon...

Daniel 4:28

All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar.

Well, we are back to Daniel.  My last post was about how King Nebuchadnezzar needed to accept God as God, and the weird dream he had.  He was going to lose his kingdom, his wealth, and his mind for seven years.  Daniel told him exactly what it meant, and it happened.  No matter what, God let this happen.  What sadness for his family.  What embarrassment they had to feel when he lost his mind.  When we all try to do things without God, we just make a mess, don't we?  I pray that today I don't mess things up to bad and that God will bless all my efforts.  Besides, he is the ultimate cleaner!  Praise him.

Encourage yourself today.  Ask God to lead you in the right path.  Talk about your situation with him and with others.  You will feel better, and you my not lose your mind.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Wait Upon the Lord

As a Christian, I try to find the best and positive in everything. Yesterday was an emotional church service.  One of our church families had some devastating news last week and it affected a lot of us.  Our minister had been planning this sermon for a couple of weeks and realized that this is not the direction he was originally going with the sermon, but when the news came, he knew it was exactly what God had planned all along.  Isn't it funny how God gets sneaky like that?  Just when you think that what you are doing is either correct or not, God takes it and shows you that he can use it for his good, if you let him.
It's always good to try because with out trying, you will never know if you can succeed.  Even if you are not good at something, I always think that is better than succeeding.  Last August, I was let go from my job.  It wasn't my favorite job, but I enjoyed most of the people there.  I tried my best, but it wasn't as good as they expected.  It wasn't a huge shock and I had been looking for a new place of employment.  It worried me because of our bills, but God is helping us make it work.  I found another job, in a totally different field and you know what?  I am really enjoying myself!  I never thought I could sell anything, but I am doing well.  I like my co-workers, the company and the customers.  What about that?  God has put me where he needs me to be at the moment. We are still trying to pay bills and catch up, but we have faith that God will give us the wisdom to do it all.
The verse that our minister came back to and I have always loved is Isaiah 40:31.

28 Do you not know?
   Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
   the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
   and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
   and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
   and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
   will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
   they will run and not grow weary,
   they will walk and not be faint.

This verse can be seen a lot of places and it never ceases to amaze me that it really works.  Wait on God and he will restore you, give you rest, and let you rise higher than you ever expected!