RESTORATION

Scripture Reading: Daniel 4:34-37

“At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored Him who lives forever.” (Daniel 4:34)

A verse came to mind as I was reading about the restoration of King Nebuchadnezzar — “Humble yourselves, therefore under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you” (I Peter 5:6). God calls us to a life of humility, following the example of our Savior (Philippians 2:5-8). Jesus did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Instead He humbled himself and took on the nature of a servant.

Nebuchadnezzar failed to humble himself before God. Therefore, God’s heavy hand came upon Him — “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5). God took away everything from the king, even his mind. He lived like a wild beast for a period of time. The greatest king in the world at that time was brought to brokenness. It was then that the king acknowledged who God was. His life was changed and he was restored.

All of us wrestle with pride. When we recognize pride in our lives, we must deal with it quickly. We must repent of it and humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand. As we do this, God will restore us and bless us. God loves us too much to let us live with the sin of pride. His hand may be heavy upon us at times. Remember what King Nebuchadnezzar said, “Those who walk in pride He is able to humble” (v. 37).

With any sin, God calls us to repentance. “I acknowledged my sin to You, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Psalm 32:5). God’s hand had been heavy upon David because of his sins. David cried out to the Lord, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” (Psalm 51:12). God restored David and brought joy back into his life. David came to realize what God really wanted from him — “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:16).

Lord God, thank You for Your steadfast love. Thank You that You grant forgiveness and restoration to me when I fall on my spiritual face. Thank You for the sacrifice of Your Son that enabled me to be in a right relationship with You. Thank You for the sweet times of restoration when I repent of my sins. Keep me broken before You, my Savior and my Lord.

Standard

HE IS ABLE TO HUMBLE THE PROUD

Scripture Reading: Daniel 4:34-37

“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the king of heaven, for all His works are right and His ways are just, and those who walk in pride He is able to humble.” (Daniel 4:37)

God had been at work in King Nebuchadnezzar’s life. He used the faithful witness of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He also used signs and wonders to impact the king’s life. But the greatest work of God was yet to come. Nebuchadnezzar experienced the heavy hand of God upon him that eventually led to his brokenness.

The king had a dream about a great tree that grew and became strong. The top of the tree reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth (vs. 10-12). In the dream, the king saw a heavenly being come down who ordered the tree to be chopped down (vs. 13-15). A stump was left but its mind was changed from a man’s to that of a beast for a specified time (vs. 16,17).

The king called on Daniel to interpret the dream. Daniel revealed that the tree represented the king. He would be driven from among men and his dwelling would be with the beasts of the field. He would be made to eat grass like an ox and would lose his mind (vs. 24-26).

One day when Nebuchadnezzar was caught up in his pride as he looked upon his great city, “all this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar” (v. 28). A voice from heaven said, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field” (vs. 31,32). The king “was driven from among men and ate like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles feathers, and his nails were like bird’s claws” (v. 33).

The greatest and most powerful man on earth at that time was brought to his knees. God humbled him greatly. When he was restored, the king’s testimony was — “Those who walk in pride He is able to humble.”

God will not let His children be overcome with pride. He loves us too much to let us think too highly of ourselves. He is able to humble those who walk in pride. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5). When we choose to walk in pride, God’s heavy hand will come upon us. When He brings us to brokenness, we will experience His transforming grace in a powerful way.

Lord God, You are able to humble me when I walk in pride. I have experienced Your heavy hand at work in my life. Keep me in the way of brokenness and let me experience Your grace in new ways. I know that You want me to have a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17). “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

Standard

PRIDE COMES BEFORE THE FALL

Scripture Reading: Daniel 4:28-33

“At the end of twelve months, he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, and the king answered and said, ‘Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:29,30)

King Nebuchadnezzar was a proud and arrogant man. We saw his pride exhibited earlier when he had a golden image made and ordered the people to fall down and worship it. He was the most powerful person on earth at that time. He had built a great empire and a great city.

On a particular day the king stood on the roof of his royal palace looking over the city of Babylon. It was a spectacular city. The king had the hanging gardens built within the city walls for his wife who missed the mountains where she once lived. The hanging gardens was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The city was considered invincible. The outer walls were wide enough for chariots drawn by horses to pass each other on top.

King Nebuchadnezzar claimed credit for all he had done. He had his city built for his own glory — “for the glory of my majesty.” He was filled with pride. In order for him to become a follower of the Most High God, he had to be broken.

We all wrestle with pride. We begin to look at our accomplishments, possessions, positions and successes and believe all was done by our own power and wisdom. We begin to think too highly of ourselves. God has called us to a life of humility. We are to have the mind of Christ, who humbled Himself and became a servant (Philippians 2:5-8). We must remember that Christ humbled Himself to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Nebuchadnezzar was going to learn a hard lesson about pride — “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). As we will see God’s hand became heavy on the king until he became a broken man. We must always remember — “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5).

Lord, I have experienced Your heavy hand when I began to think too highly of myself. Grant me grace to have the mind of my Savior, Jesus. Enable me to live a life of humility before You and before others.

Standard

TRANSFORMING GRACE

Scripture Reading: Daniel 4:1-3

“It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me. How great are His signs, how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion endures from generation to generation.” (Daniel 4:2,3)

These are the words of King Nebuchadnezzar. A great change had taken place in his life. From being a persecutor of God’s people, he now became a witness to the one true God. How did this change happen? The only answer is the transforming grace of God.

Daniel, Shadrach, Meschah, and Abednego had been faithful witnesses to the king. All four of these men pointed the king to the one, true God in heaven. They gave God credit for all their accomplishments. In addition to their witness, the king mentioned “the signs and wonders” of God. The events that took place in chapter four came soon after the miraculous deliverance of Shadrach, Meschah, and Abednego from the fiery furnace. When the king saw that “the fire had not any power over the bodies of those men” and that “the hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed and no smell of fire had come upon them” (3:27), he began to praise the God of these men — “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Mechach, and Abednego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants, who trusted in Him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God” (3:29).

The king had witnessed the faith of Shadrach, Mechach, and Abednego. He had seen how these men trusted their God, even being willing to put their lives in jeopardy in order to honor their God. The king had also witnessed the miracle of the fourth man who came to rescue the men. All these things were part of God’s work in the life of King Nebuchadnezzar.

But these things were not enough. The king had to be humbled. God was not finished with him yet. Remember — “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion” (Philippians 1:6). The opening words of chapter four begin at the end of the story. We will see how the heavy hand of the Lord came upon the king and brought him to be a witness to the one, true God. It is the transforming grace of God that used the testimony of faithful followers, signs and wonders, and eventually dire circumstances to bring this pagan king to his knees.

Never underestimate the power of the transforming grace of God. It can change the most sinful, hardened person. It is a radical work of God in the hearts of people that brings about transformation. God’s transforming grace is at work in us now. He has not finished with us. He is making us more and more into the image of His Son.

Lord God, thank You for Your transforming grace that changed me from the inside out. Thank You for the continued work of Your grace in my life that is causing me to grow in my faith and giving me power to live my life for You.

Standard

THE SAVIOR

Scripture Reading: Daniel 3:19-30

“But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:25)

When Shadrach, Mechach, and Abednego refused to worship the king’s idol, the king ordered them to be thrown into a burning fiery furnace. The king was so furious at these men that he ordered the furnace to be heated as much as possible (v. 19). Shadrach, Mechach, and Abednego were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats and other garments. The furnace was so hot that when the guards threw the men into the furnace, the flames of the furnace killed the guards.

The king stood by and witnessed what happened. As he looked into the furnace, he was astonished — “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” Then he observed that there was a fourth person in the furnace with them — one whose appearance was like “a son of the gods.”

Who was this fourth person? There is no doubt in my mind that this was none other than the Son of God, a preincarnate manifestation of our Savior and Deliverer, Jesus Christ. There are many such appearances of Christ throughout the Old testament. Jesus came to rescue Shadrach, Mechach, and Abednego. He was in the fiery furnace with them — “When you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you for I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:2b,3a). Jesus entered the furnace with Shadrach, Mechach, and Abednego and delivered them from it.

The king was amazed and said — “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Mechach, and Abednego, who has sent His angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in Him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God” (v. 28).

While none of us will be placed in a literal fiery furnace, we will all go through fiery trials. During those times we must trust our Savior to be with us and to deliver us from them. During some of the most difficult times in my life, I have claimed Isaiah 43:2 — “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned and the flame shall not consume you for I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Jesus enters the fiery trials with us. We are never alone in them. He is able to deliver us from them for He is our Savior.

Lord Jesus, I have been through some fiery trials during my life. You have never forsaken me during those times of difficulty. I know that You are with me and that You are able to deliver me from my trials. I bow before You, my Savior and Deliverer.

Standard

UNCONDITIONAL TRUST

Scripture Reading: Daniel 3:16-18

“O Nebechadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 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. 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)

As we have seen, Shadrach, Mechach, and Abednego refused to worship the graven image that Nebuchadnezzar had built. They were committed to worship only the Lord God. They knew the Ten Commandments and were determined to have no other gods before the one, true God (the First Commandment) and not to bow down and serve any graven image (the Second Commandment). Out of their love and respect for God they committed themselves to be obedient to God. They trusted Him for the outcome no matter what it may be.

These faithful men had unconditional trust in their God. They knew that He was able to deliver them if He chose to do so. But the amazing thing is what they also told the king — “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.” Do you see what they were saying? They were stating clearly that their faith did not depend on the outcome. If God delivered them from the fiery furnace, they would be thankful. But even if God did not choose to deliver them, they still trusted Him and were committed to being faithful to Him. Their faith was unconditional.

In his devotional for September 7th, Paul David Tripp wrote these words — “The moments when life doesn’t seem to be working as it should, the moments when you are bitterly disappointed, the moments when you have experienced loss, or the moments when unexpected trials have entered your door are not indications of the failure of God’s plan. These moments do not depict that He has forgotten you. These moments do not reveal that He is unfaithful to His promises….They are placed in our lives as tools of the ongoing work of rescuing, transforming and delivering grace. They are in our lives because the God we serve esteems holiness more than He esteems our temporal happiness” (Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies).

When God doesn’t answer our prayers as we would want Him to, we can still trust Him. He does not cease to love us; He is working His grace out in us. We are called to an unconditional trust in our Savior who loves us and gave Himself for us.

Lord Jesus, I know that I can trust You no matter what. I can trust You through the good times and through the difficult times. When I don’t get the answers to my prayers that I desire, I still can trust You, for You always know what is best for me. You have shown me how much You love me by giving Yourself as a ransom for me. Grant me grace to trust You unconditionally, no matter what I am facing.

Standard

GOD IS ABLE

Scripture Reading: Daniel 3:8-18

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 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.'” (Daniel 3:16,17)

Most of us remember the story of the fiery furnace in the book of Daniel. In his arrogance, King Nebuchadnezzar made an enormous image of gold as an idol to himself. He ordered all of his subjects to worship the image when they heard the sound of music — “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace” (vs. 4-6).

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship the image. They honored their God and refused to give way to idolatry. Certain Chaldeans, who were jealous of these Jews because they had been promoted to high positions in the government, “came forward and maliciously accused the Jews” (v. 8). When the king was informed of the matter, he became furious and ordered that Shadrach, Mechach, and Abednego be brought before him.

These three faithful followers of God were not afraid of the king. Instead, they put their trust in God. Notice what they said to the king — “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” (v. 17). They knew that God was far more powerful than King Nebuchadnezzar and that He was able to deliver them both from the fiery furnace and from the oppression of the king.

When we face difficulties, trials, and overwhelming challenges, we must remember that our GOD IS ABLE to deliver us from them. His power and grace are unlimited. He can do more than we can imagine — “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20). Our omnipotent God will work in us and He will give us the strength to endure. In the end, we know that He will deliver us from all our troubles.

All powerful and merciful God, I know that You are able to do more abundantly than all I could ask or think. I have seen Your powerful hand at work in my life. When I face difficulties, trials and overwhelming challenges, I have nothing to fear, for You are able to give me the strength to endure and ultimately You will deliver me.

Standard

SELF GRANDEUR

Scripture Reading: Daniel 3:1-7

“King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold whose height was sixty cubits and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.” (Daniel 3:1)

King Nebuchadnezzar had become the most powerful man in the world. He ruled the greatest nation that existed at that time. His power and position caused him to think way too highly of himself. He had an enormous statue built. This statue was a monument to himself. At certain times during the day when certain musical instruments were played, all the people under his rule were to worship his golden image. This shows what a proud and arrogant man Nebuchadnezzar had become. He had put himself in the place of God.

Notice that this statue was similar to the one Nebuchadnezzar had seen in his dream (chapter 2). The parts of the statue were made up of different elements — its head gold, its chest and arms silver, its middle and thighs bronze, its legs iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. God revealed the meaning of the king’s dream to Daniel. The head which was made of gold represented King Nebuchadnezzar (2:38). The other parts of the statue represents other kings and kingdoms that were to come.

When Daniel gave the interpretation of the dream to Nebuchadnezzar, he said, “You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might and the glory…You are the head of gold (2:37,38). Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged that Daniel’s God was indeed the God of gods and the the Lord of kings (2:47).

It is amazing how quickly Nebuchadnezzar had forgotten what he had said. Now he was making himself the Lord of kings and demanding that people worship him. When the king had his statue built, it was made of pure gold, just like the head of gold in his dream. He did this to assert that there would be no other kingdoms after his. He openly denied what God had revealed to him in the dream. He was claiming that his kingdom was the greatest and that it would stand forever.

Nebuchadnezzar, like many other powerful people, was filled with pride and self grandeur. Such arrogant leaders attempt to put themselves in the place of God. But we must remember the words of Psalm 2 — “The kings of the earth set themselves, the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast their cords from us'” (Psalm 2:2,3). But notice God’s reaction to their rebellious words — “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Thus He will speak to them in His wrath, and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘As for Me, I have set My King on Zion, My holy hill…Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way; for His wrath is quickly kindled'” (Psalm 2:4-6, 11,12).

Lord Jesus, You are the only King of kings and Lord of lords. I pray for our nation’s leaders that they would acknowledge Your divine authority over them. I pray for those who have become powerful in the eyes of men, that they will remain humble servants. Lord Jesus, I do homage to You, for I know that You are the King that rules over all Your creation.

Standard

FAITHFUL WITNESS

Scripture Reading: Daniel 2:46-49

“The king answered and said to Daniel, ‘Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.’ Then the king gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon.” (Daniel 2:47,48)

When Daniel appeared before King Nebuchadnezzar to reveal the king’s dream and its interpretation, he gave full credit to God — “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days” (vs. 27,28). Daniel pointed the king to the God in heaven who alone was able to reveal these mysteries.

Daniel’s witness was simple and to the point — “There is a God in heaven” who is able. As we will see, Daniel and his companions — Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego — continued to witness faithfully to this pagan king. They used every occasion possible to point the king to the one true God. At this point Nebuchadnezzar simply acknowledged that Daniel’s God is a “God of gods and Lord of kings.” This was a big step for the king to take.

God rewarded Daniel for his faithful witness — “Then the king gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon.” Daniel became the second in command over all of Babylon. This enabled him to have greater access to the king and thus a greater opportunity to witness to him.

God has called each of us to be faithful witnesses. Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Today we have the power of the Holy Spirit. We may not have all the answers to people’s questions about the things of God, but we can be faithful in telling them our own experience with Jesus Christ. Our job is to point people to Jesus and leave the rest to God.

Lord Jesus, I want to be a faithful witness for You. Thank You for sending the Holy Spirit to empower me so that I can point people to You. Give me opportunities today to tell others about Your great love and grace.

Standard

GOD’S ETERNAL KINGDOM

Scripture Reading: Daniel 2:30-49

“And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever.” (Daniel 2:44)

King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was about earthly kingdoms. He had a vision of a great statue whose head was made of gold, its chest and arms were made of silver, it middle and thighs were made of bronze, its legs were made of iron and its feet were made partly of iron and partly of clay. The various parts of the statue represented the earthly kingdoms that were to come. The head represented the Babylonian Empire. The other parts of the statue represented kingdoms that followed the Babylonians — the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans.

The king also saw a stone cut out by no human hand and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the stone became a great mountain that filled the whole earth. The stone represented the eternal kingdom of God. It was not made by human hands; it came from the God of heaven.

Nebuchadnezzar’s dream reminds us that earthly kingdoms will come and go. They are here only for a season. Unlike earthly kingdoms, God’s Kingdom will stand forever; it is eternal. When Jesus Christ came to earth, He began His ministry with these words — “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Jesus ushered in God’s eternal Kingdom. He is the King who rules in our hearts now.

But there is a day coming, when Jesus returns in glory and all earthly kingdoms will be destroyed. At that time the Kingdom of God will have its full expression in the new heavens and new earth. What a glorious day that will be!

Lord Jesus, my eternal King, I bow before You. I acknowledge Your rule over my life. I know that Your kingdom has come now and I also know that when You return again, all earthly kingdoms will cease to exist and Your eternal Kingdom will stand forever. Come quickly Lord Jesus!

Standard