June 17, 2019

Today you should read: Daniel 6

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I LOVE Daniel 6!  What an incredible chapter!  So much to learn from it!

Daniel was a leader (v.3)

Daniel began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and satraps…

Daniel is a teenager – most believe between 17-19 years old.  God’s hand was on him in incredible ways. He must have had great parents who instilled the Bible into him and taught him how to stand up for what is right.

Jealousy is real (v.4)

People don’t like it when our righteous lifestyle convicts them of their sinful one.  This is true of lost and saved friends. Jesus told us:

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  Matthew 5:10-12

Daniel was committed to God regardless of the cost (v.10)

When Daniel knew that the document was signed – the document that would send him into the den of hungry lions for not worshipping the king – he prayed anyway!  With his windows open for all to see – just like he did every day.

He was NOT going to let this stop him from worshipping and crying out to God.

God is a faithful Father (v.22)

God protected Him.  This was a major witness to a lost king and a watching world.

God is still the same… Be a leader – make a difference in your job or your school or in your neighborhood.  Jealousy is real – people may not applaud your efforts – but that’s okay. Be committed to God regardless of the cost.  Stay true and faithful to God and His Word because God is a faithful Father and He will protect and bless you.

By: Tim Parsons — Lead Pastor

June 15, 2019

Today you should read: Daniel 5

This is one of the most interesting stories in all of Scripture to me. Nowhere else in the Bible do you read about a human-hand writing on a wall! This is something I would expect to read in Goosebumps, but not the Bible.

Yet here we are, reading of King Belshazzar’s great feast for 1,000 of his nobles. He commands that the gold and silver cups that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem be brought to them, so they could drink wine from them, and while they drank from these cups they praised their own idols made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.

The Jewish people had been in exile for quite some time now, and this was yet another slap in the face. They may have felt that their God was powerless because an earthly king was drinking from stolen cups worshiping other gods. King Belshazzar was trying to make a mockery of the Lord Most High.

But God showed his power and his faithfulness to his people in writing on the wall. Daniel revealed what the writing meant on the wall. Daniel tells Belshazzar about Nebuchadnezzar’s arrogance and God’s Sovereignty. The message on the wall, “Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin,” meant that the Lord had “numbered” the days of Belshazzar’s reign and ended it. God “weighed” Belshazzar, sizing him up and seeing him as not being fit to rule. The Lord “divided” his kingdom and gave it to the Medes and Persians.

What Belshazzar failed to understand was that the God Most High that Daniel served was sovereign: he was in control and ruling over all Creation, including Babylonian kings. While Belshazzar worshiped idols and drank from the Temple cups, God was bringing up a different people to overthrow the Babylonians.

What can we take from this story?

First, we must realize the foolishness of worshiping idols. In the Old Testament, they worshiped carved images and statues of gold, silver, bronze, wood, and stone. Today, we often worship things like approval, power, money, sex, relationships, and anything that takes first place in our lives. We have to realize that God is the only one deserving of our adoration and praise.

Second, we must understand that God is sovereign. Since God rules over all creation, he has control of what goes on. He is mighty and powerful, yet loving and caring. Therefore, we can trust that in his goodness, God is working all things for our good. No matter what you go through you can trust that God is at work and cares for you.

Take some time today to confess to God any idols that you have been worshiping and thank God that in his sovereignty and goodness, he is working in your life.

By: Lucas Taylor — West Campus Pastoral Ministry Apprentice

June 14, 2019

Today you should read: Daniel 4

Our lives are for God’s glory – plain and simple – but we’ve bought the lie.  The lie that it is all about us – that we pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps – that life is what I make it.  It simply isn’t true.  This is especially hard when we experience fame or success – as in our story today.  

King Nebuchadnezzar had it all.  Everyone bowed down to him – he had the choicest of accommodations, food, and women.  He had everything anyone could ever want… but he forgot where it came from. He began to think it was because of him – his wisdom – his ability – his leadership.

God gave him a dream.  God often spoke through dreams and the king knew it.  The dream bothered him – what could it mean? He asked all his magicians, enchanters, astrologers and fortune-tellers – no one knew.  Then someone thought of Daniel – God lived in him and would enable him to understand the dream. Daniel explained that the kingdom was soon to be taken from Nebuchadnezzar if he didn’t repent and do what’s right (v.27).  He simply refused – he had a hard heart.

So… God let him live like a crazy man – like a wild animal.  He ate grass like a cow, he lived outdoors, his hair was as long as eagles’ feathers and his nails were like bird claws.  This would continue until he learned “that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone He chooses”.

This is true today too.  God still rules in the same way.  He’s the one that allows us to prosper and suffer – he lets you flourish in business – find the right guy – build a successful church.  He is the one that rules and gives success and prosperity to who HE chooses.

If you are living a life of prosperity – it’s because God allowed it and He wants you to use it for His glory.  If you don’t – He might take it away. If you’re struggling – it’s because God wants to get your attention and turn your focus to Him.

Never forget the words God spoke to king Nebuchadnezzar, “the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone He chooses.”

By: Tim Parsons — Lead Pastor

June 13, 2019

Today you should read: Daniel 3

When you think of the most well known stories from the book of Daniel, our passage today is one of them. King Nebuchadnezzar had created this massive idol of gold for the people to worship. Not only did he create it, he mandated that everyone in the land would bow down in worship to it, with the punishment of disobedience being incinerated in a furnace.

This clearly proposed a problem for our Jewish friends in the book of Daniel. There’s no doubt that the first commandment came to mind when hearing this news:

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:3-6 (ESV)

God is very clear in regards to our worship: we are to worship Him and Him alone.

So our trio has a decision to make: to strongly stand by their worship of the one true God, or to worship the god of Nebuchadnezzar and avoid a fiery outcome. What do they decide? There was not a second of hesitation:

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18 (ESV)

Their response is bold. They have confidence that God will save them from the fire, but they are resolved that even if he does not, they would rather die than submit themselves to worship of other gods. Oh, that we would have this same confidence and resolve! Nothing could stop them from worshipping the one true God.

The three young men were resolved to remain faithful to God no matter what God did, but God in his grace saved them from the fire. The king made the fire 7 times hotter than normal, so hot that it killed some of the servants tending to it! The people watching saw something amazing in the fire: although they had only put the three young men in the fire, they saw a fourth in there with them! Who was the fourth person? Some say it is Jesus, others that it was an angel. No matter what, it was proof that God was present with them in the fire, watching over them and protecting them.

God showed his kindness to them in the fire so that His name would be glorified in the land. In fact, Nebuchadnezzar saying that if anyone said anything negative about the god of Israel, they would be torn limb from limb.

The point of all of this is for us to see that God is worthy of true worship, no matter the outcome. The example of the three young men is a great example to us: a true and pure worship of God that is not based on receiving anything, but is based in a true understanding of who God is.

I wanted to close by having you listen to this song that is based on our passage from today. Allow it to encourage you and remind you of the truth of God’s Word throughout the day!

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Associate