Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Captivity- Part 5

Mighty Babylon had been taken in a night attack by the army of Media-Persia. This army had already destroyed the cities of Assyria and Nineveh. God was with this army as it traveled across the ancient lands. God had a plan for the rulers who would sit on the throne.
Belshazzar had been killed, and the new king, Darius, had taken rule over the city of Babylon.
Darius was a different king than Nebuchadnezzar. Darius had to follow a certain law while he was ruling. When he established something into law no one, not even he himself, could change it!
Daniel 6:1-2- It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage.
Darius had a setup within his kingdom of different positions of power. There were 120 princes at the bottom, then 3 presidents, and he himself as king at the top. Daniel was one of the three presidents.
Daniel 6:3- Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.
Because Daniel was different from the others, it made an impression to the king. He realized that Daniel could be trusted. The king was thinking of adding another position to his power pyramid, and it would be just for Daniel.
Daniel 6:4-5- Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.
The other presidents and princes didn't like that Darius was going to promote Daniel to a position higher than they. They went around watching everything he did waiting for him to mess up.
But, Daniel obeyed God's law so well, that none of the men could find anything wrong. They realized that if they were going to get Daniel in trouble, they were going to have to find something in his religion that went against the law of Media-Persia.
Daniel 6:6-9- Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.
There wasn't any law that they could use, so they carefully made up a new one that they knew Daniel wouldn't obey. They came to the king and presented this wicked new law as something good. The king didn't know that they were planning on using this against Daniel, and so he passed the decree to make praying to any god, but himself, a violation.
Daniel 6:10- Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
Daniel always prayed to the Lord three times a day. He had probably been doing this since he was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar as a young man. He decided that it was better to do what God said than what a person said. So, he just kept on praying like he had always done.
Daniel 6:11-13- Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king's decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.
Do you remember Nebuchadnezzar's dream about the statue that Daniel interpreted? The kingdom that arose after Nebuchadnezzar would be strong military wise, but wouldn't have a king as powerful as Nebuchanezzar was.
The evil princes and the wicked presidents took Daniel before the king and then they accused him of breaking the new law.
Oh, no! The king realized then what was going on, but it was too late.
Daniel 6:14-15- Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him. Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed.
If this had been Nebuchadnezzar on the throne, he wouldn't told those vile men to get lost! But, Darius didn't have the power to change laws. He might be ruler over what was once Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom, but he wasn't as powerful as that Babylonian king.
The king of Media-Persia was limited by the laws of the land. Even though Darius tried to find a loophole to save Daniel, he couldn't!
Daniel 6:16-18- Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee. And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel. Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him.
Darius had no choice but to throw Daniel into the lions den. He told Daniel that his God would protect him, but he didn't believe it. After he closed up the lions den with Daniel inside, he went back to his palace and sat troubled all night long!
But, back inside the lions den, Daniel was safe.
Daniel looked around him at the stone cave walls. He heard the breathing and the treading of the hungry lions. Perhaps he felt scared of what he supposed was about to happen.
But, suddenly, it got very bright in the cave. Daniel could see a man standing in the cave with him. Who was he? Daniel knew that he, alone, was throne into the lions den.
Then the man spoke to him. He told Daniel that God had sent him to keep Daniel safe from the lions. The man was an angel! He made sure that not one lion opened his mouth to even lick Daniel.
Daniel had put his faith and trust in the Lord God Almighty. He had done this back when he was a young captive in Nebuchadnezzar's court. And he never stopped obeying and worshiping God. Because of this, God was going to protect Daniel.
Daniel 6:19-20- Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?
The king ran as fast as he could to the lions den when it was very early in the morning. He ordered the stone to be removed from the cave opening.
He leaned over the hole and yelled down to Daniel. He was very sorrowful because, even though he hoped that Daniel's God could save and protect him, he didn't believe that Daniel would survive.
Much to his dismay and delight, Daniel answered the king!
Daniel 6:21-23- Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.
Daniel told the king all about the angel of the Lord that came to protect him in the lions den.
When the men who were with the king pulled Daniel out of the cave, the king saw that there wasn't one scratch on him!
King Darius joy was then turned to anger against the evil rulers that had devised this wicked plan to destroy Daniel. And the king had a punishment in mind for them.
Daniel 6:24- And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.
The king ordered that not only these men, but their families, be thrown into the same lions den that Daniel had been taken out of. No angel came to protect these people. The lions caught them on their way down and killed every last one of them!
Darius decided to make a new law after this miracle.
Daniel 6:25-27- Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.
Darius told all the people throughout his kingdom of Daniel's amazing God. He told these people that they should fear and tremble before the Lord God Almighty because He was greater than anything and anyone in all the universe.
Daniel 6:18- So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
God protected Daniel throughout the reign of the Babylonian kings. And, He was going to protect Daniel throughout the reign of the kings of Media-Persia, too.

Friday, June 29, 2018

The Captivity- Part 4

Some years have passed since Nebuchadnezzar had been king. His son, Evilmerodach, had reigned. Then his grandson, Belshazzar, was crowned king.
Through all these rulers, Daniel had remained the faithful wise man when needed; though his calling by the king slowly diminished. He was not only faithful to the kings of Babylon, but he was also faithful to God.
The kings of Babylon, however, did not remember the Lord God Almighty like they should have. Perhaps, they viewed Nebuchadnezzar's account of his time as a wild beast-man as a myth. Or maybe, they weren't told about the miraculous things that the wise men who served this God did.
Daniel 5:1-3- Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them.
Belshazzar had made a feast. And, while he was feasting he decided to bring in the vessels from the temple of Jerusalem to drink from. Not only did he use the hallowed things from the Temple of the Lord, they were worshiping false idols as they did so.
Daniel 5:4- They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.
What do you suppose the Lord God Almighty thought of this?
Daniel 5:5-6- In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.
God wasn't too happy with Belshazzar for this. He reached down from heaven and with his finger wrote a note to the Babylonian king.
Belshazzar had never seen anything like it! All of a sudden a floating hand was there in the room with him writing something on the wall of his palace in a language that he had never seen before!
He was so scared that he shook so hard his knees were knocking together.
Daniel 5:7-8- The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom. Then came in all the king's wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof.
Belshazzar called his wise men, but they didn't know the Lord God Almighty. They couldn't read the writing on the wall. Oh, what was the king going to do?!?!
Daniel 5:9-12- Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied. Now the queen, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed: There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation.
While Belshazzar was worrying about what to do, the Queen came to visit him. She remembered the time when King Nebuchadnezzar had trouble with the unknown. She knew about Daniel and his ability to do the impossible. And, she told the king about this forgotten wise man.
Daniel 5:13-16- Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry? I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee. And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not shew the interpretation of the thing: And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom.
Daniel came in before the King. He had already looked at and read the writing on the wall. He knew exactly what it said!
Daniel 5:17-21- Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation. O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.
Daniel told the king that he didn't want his promised gifts. He knew that God had appointed an end to this prideful Babylonian. So, Daniel decided to tell the king the story of Nebuchadnezzar and the power of the Lord God Almighty.
Why would Daniel do this? Was it because Belshazzar didn't know the story? No. He knew the stories. It was because God was about to punish another Babylonian king.
Daniel 5:22-24- And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified: Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.
Daniel said that he knew that Belshazzar had heard about Nebuchadnezzar's savage days. Even though he had heard the punishment for pride, he didn't humble his heart. He worshiped the false idols that could do nothing, and ignored the power of the Creator of the Universe.
Daniel 5:25-28- And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
Daniel told Belshazzar that God was going to take the kingdom from him. And not only from him, but from the line of Babylonians. There was going to come another nation that would take the kingdom.
Daniel 5:29- Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
The king was so glad that someone was able to tell him what the writing meant that he rewarded Daniel with a chain of gold and a promotion to the third ruler in the kingdom. But, this was really for nought.
You see, while Daniel was making known the interpretation to the king, the armies of the Medes and the Persians were preparing to invade the city.
History tells us that the city had mighty walls around it. It was thought to be invincible. The city also had the Euphrates river flowing through it. During a siege the people inside would always have water.
But, this river was what the enemy army used to get into the city. The soldiers dug a trench to let the water flow in a different direction. Then, they crawled under the city walls in the spot where the water used to flow.
While Belshazzar was feasting and  shaking and getting the bad news from Daniel, the enemy army had already entered the city and were coming for him.
Daniel 5:30-31- In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.
Belshazzar was killed that very night by the Media-Persian army, and his throne was taken by a man named Darius.
This mighty city of Babylon was first mentioned in the Bible just after the flood as the city of Babel. It was here that God gave man different languages.
This city had beautiful clothing that exported to different areas of the world. It was a garment from this city that tempted Achan when Joshua was bringing the Hebrew children into the Promised Land.
It was by the dreadful king of this city that God sent the punishment of captivity to the nation of Judah for their sin of idolatry. The same event that brought Daniel, Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego to the capitol of Persia.
God had enough of this wicked city. It had been trouble from the start!
Would this new ruler fear the Lord God Almighty? Would he listen to Daniel's wisdom? Would he learn the lessons from the stories of the past kings who were punished for their pride while they sat on the throne?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Captivity- Part 3

Nebuchadnezzar had seen the Lord God Almighty work in some mysterious ways. He witnessed Daniel tell of his dream and the meaning of it by the Lord's guidance. He was amazed by the protection the Lord gave to Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego.
But, Nebuchadnezzar was about to get a personal experience with the power of the Lord God Almighty!
Daniel 4:4-6- I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace: I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me. Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known unto me the interpretation of the dream.
Nebuchadnezzar had another dream. It was a frightening dream! And, again, he called the wise men to make known to him what it meant.
Daniel 4:7-9- Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof. But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying, O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof.
Just like the last time, Nebuchadnezzar's wise men couldn't tell the king what his dream meant. But, then, Daniel came in. Nebuchadnezzar recognized that there was something different about Daniel, and he was hoping that Daniel could again interpret his dream.
Daniel 4:10-18- Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great. The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth: The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it. I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven; He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches: Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth: Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him. This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men. This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee.
Nebuchadnezzar's dream was an interesting one. But, Daniel knew exactly what it meant. And it astonished Daniel so much that he couldn't move or speak for an hour.
Daniel 4:19-26- Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies. The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth; Whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation: It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth. And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him; This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king: That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.
Nebuchadnezzar's dream was about the future, his personal future. God was warning Nebuchadnezzar that if he didn't humble himself, he would be punished. Daniel was afraid of what God was going to do!
He told the king that he was the tree that was beautiful and strong. And, the holy one that said to cut the tree down was  a servant of the Most High God. The seven times were seven years that the punishment would be on Nebuchadnezzar for his pride. But, after seven years, God would give him back the kingdom.
Daniel wanted to warn Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel 4:27- Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.
Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar to do right, not sin, and have mercy on the poor. And, the king did for a year.
Daniel 4:28-30- All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?
Nebuchadnezzar forgot about his dream. He was looking at the wonder of his kingdom and he said that it was by his own power and wisdom that he became ruler over it.
Daniel 4:31-32- While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
God spoke to Nebuchadnezzar from heaven and pronounced a seven year curse on him for his pride.
That moment, king Nebuchadnezzar turned into a mutant. His mind became like a wild animal, and his body would follow.
He was so crazy and wild that the people of his kingdom had to drive him out of the city.
Daniel 4:33- The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws.
For seven years the king lived as a wild animal. His nails grew out and look liked talons; his hair grew out and frayed and tangled so that they looked like nasty feathers. He ate grass like all the other wild animals.
And after seven years, he was given a little bit of his mind back. And with that little bit, he praised the Lord God Almighty.
Daniel 4:34-35- And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
As soon as he humbled himself, and praised the Most High God, he was turned back into a man. He still looked like a wild mutant, but that could be taken care of with a haircut and a bath. But, his mind had completely returned. He was the mighty king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon once more, only a little more humble.
Daniel 4:36- At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.
He went back to his city and was accepted back as the king. He recognized that it was the mercy of the Lord that had brought him back to his throne. And, he wanted everyone in his kingdom to know what had happened so that they, too, would worship the Lord God Almighty in humility.
Daniel 4:1-3, 37- Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me. How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.
Nebuchadnezzar learned a valuable lesson that he never forgot!
Proverbs 16:18- Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
If we are wise like Daniel we will learn humility from this story. But, if we are fools like Nebuchadnezzar we may just end up getting a scary lesson from the Lord Himself!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Captivity- Part 2

Last time, we learned that King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream about a statue. Daniel had been given wisdom by God to make known to the king what the dream meant.
But, Nebuchadnezzar was inspired by the dream to do wrong.
Daniel 3:1- Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar made an idol like the image that he had dreamed about. He set it up in an open field and then he gathered his people together.
Daniel 3:3-6- Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
Nebuchadnezzar wanted everyone to worship this false idol. The ones who would not bow down to the idol would be killed by fire.
Daniel 3:8-9, 12- Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews. They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever. There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
There were some of the people of Babylon, the Chaldeans, who didn't like the Jews. They noticed when these men didn't bow down and worship the idol. And, they accused them to the king!
Daniel 3:13-14- Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king.
When King Nebuchadnezzar heard that these men wouldn't bow down, he got really mad! He had them brought before him so that he could threaten them.
But, where was Daniel? Perhaps Daniel wasn't in the province when all this happened. Or, perchance, Daniel had allowed the king to worship him and so he couldn't say anything about his friends not bowing down to the idol.
We don't know why Daniel wasn't there exactly. But, we do know that these men had decided they were going to obey God and do what was right- whether Daniel was by their side or not.
Daniel 3:14-15- Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?
Nebuchadnezzar told the men that they had one more chance. He said if they didn't worship his image this time that they would surely die. And, then he questioned their faith.
He knew they wouldn't bow down because they served the Lord God Almighty. He asked who this God was that he didn't know. He questioned whether their God could deliver them from death.
Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego knew that their God could deliver them. They had seen their God answer their prayers about the king's dream. They had witnessed God's blessing on them while they were learning the language and customs of Babylon. And they remembered all the stories of how their God had helped the Israelites throughout history.
They knew that He could deliver them. But, they didn't know if He would deliver them.
Regardless of whether God would keep them from dying or not, they decided that they were going to obey His laws!
Daniel 3:16-18- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
When they Jews answered that they would rather die than worship Nebuchadnezzar's idol, he got so angry that even the look on his face changes drastically!
Daniel 3:19- Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.
Nebuchadnezzar had made the furnace hot, but in his anger he wanted it hotter than it had ever been before! If these Hebrew men thought that their God could stop their death, Nebuchadnezzar was going to make it as hard as possible for Him to do it!
Daniel 3:20-23- And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Therefore because the king's commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
Nebuchadnezzar had these men tied up and thrown into the furnace. They were fully dressed, even having their jackets and their hats on. The fire was so hot that it killed the men that got close enough to throw the Hebrew men in.
But, God was pleased that Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego would do right. He was glad that they would choose to serve Him even if it meant that they would be killed. And, He was going to take care of His people.
Daniel 3:24-25- Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
Nebuchadnezzar was amazed when he looked into the furnace, expecting to see charcoal briquettes, and instead he saw 4 men walking around!
He asked one of the men beside him how many men they threw into the furnace, and if they were tied up.
Of course!
Well, Nebuchadnezzar saw 4 men. And, there was something about that fourth man that reminded the king of the son of God.
Daniel 3:26-27- Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.
The king called to the Hebrew men to come out of the furnace.
When Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego climbed out, all those standing around were amazed! They looked like they did before they went in- no burn marks on their skin or clothes, their hair hadn't singed up, and there wasn't even the smell of smoke on them!
Daniel 3:28-29- Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.
Nebuchadnezzar could only worship the Lord God Almighty after that! He had never seen any nation's god be able to spare their lives in that manner. He sent out a proclamation that anyone who said anything against the Lord God Almighty would be killed and their houses destroyed!
Then, Nebuchadnezzar rewarded Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego for their unwavering faith!
Daniel 3:30- Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.
Jesus said that we shouldn't fear the people who say they will kill us. We should fear the Lord God Almighty!
Matthew 10:28- And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Why shouldn't we fear those who threaten to kill us? Because, as a Christian, all they can do is send you to heaven. You should fear God who can not only kill you, but also send your soul to hell.
It's better to do right and have God fight for you- just ask Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Captivity- Part 1

The kingdoms of Israel and Judah are no more. Israel has been taken into captivity by the Assyrians, and Judah has been taken into captivity by the Babylonians.
Some of these captives were made servants in the house of the king of Babylon. They were going to be taught the Babylonian language and customs.
Daniel 1:3-4- And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes; Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
Those chosen had to be wise in different school subjects, they had to be able to solve problems, and they had to show that they could use wisdom and understanding in certain situations. This was going to take time! They had to learn a new language and pass a lot of tests!
Daniel 1:5-7- And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king. Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.
There were four main boys that drew not only the attention of the Babylonians, but also the attention of God. We known one by his Jewish name, and the other three by their Babylonian names- Daniel, Shadrack, Meshack, andAbednego.
Why do you think they got God's attention?
Daniel 1:8- But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
Daniel knew that even though he was in a strange land God could still see him. He wanted to do what was right and please God. Perhaps, Daniel had heard all the things that Jeremiah had been saying before the captivity?
Daniel didn't want to eat things that God had said "no" to. So, he was going to request that a special diet be given to him. His friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, would also follow him and try to please God.
Daniel 1:9-13- Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king. Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king's meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
The Hebrew children went to man in charge and asked for a special diet. The man was worried. If these boys under his care looked sickly or weak, then he would be killed!
Daniel used wisdom and asked if the man would allow them this special diet for just 10 days. If they didn't look sick after that time, it would be a permanent thing. But, if they weren't doing well, they would go back on the king's food.
That sounded good to the man in charge.
Daniel 1:14-16- So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days. And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat. Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
After the 10 days, Daniel and his friends looked better than the other boys. The man in charge decided to change all of their diets to water and vegetables.
How did God feel about what Daniel was trying to do? He was very pleased! And, he blessed Daniel and his friends.
Daniel 1:17-20- As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.
Because they were willing to obey God and work hard, God gave them more wisdom and understanding than even the older wise men in the land of Babylon. But, it was going to take time, and God, before their skills were valued.
Daniel 2:1-2- And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him. Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to shew the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king.
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had a scary dream. He didn't know what this dream meant. But, he couldn't sleep because of it.
He called all of his old, wise men to come and tell him what this dream meant. But, to be sure they weren't making anything up King Nebuchadnezzar was going to test them.
Daniel 2:5-6- The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill. But if ye shew the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honour: therefore shew me the dream, and the interpretation thereof.
King Nebuchadnezzar couldn't quite remember his dream. So, he wanted his wise men to tell him what his dream was and what it meant. If they couldn't, they would be killed.
Now, this was an impossible task for the old, wise men. They didn't know what happened inside the king's head! They tried to tell the king that it couldn't be done, but the king got mad, and ordered their death!
Daniel 2:12-13- For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.
Even though, Daniel and his friends weren't standing in the king's court, they were still considered wise men. So, they would have to be killed, too.
Daniel was going to have to use the wisdom that God gave him and his friends to find a way to save their lives.
Daniel 2:14-16- Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king's guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon: He answered and said to Arioch the king's captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel. Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation.
Daniel asked to be taken to the king. He asked King Nebuchadnezzar to give them a little time and then they would tell him what he wanted to know.
How was Daniel going to do that? He was going to pray and ask God for help!
Do you remember another man in the Bible that God gave wisdom about dreams to? Joseph!
Daniel probably heard the story of Joseph growing up. He knew that God could see what went on in people's dreams. He knew God could give the meaning of dreams. He was going to ask God to help him interpret King Nebuchadnezzar's dream.
Daniel 2:17-19- hen Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions: That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.
God answered Daniel's prayer. He gave Daniel the dream and the meaning. And, Daniel and his friends thanked God!
Daniel 2:24-25- Therefore Daniel went in unto Arioch, whom the king had ordained to destroy the wise men of Babylon: he went and said thus unto him; Destroy not the wise men of Babylon: bring me in before the king, and I will shew unto the king the interpretation. Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation.
Daniel went before King Nebuchadnezzar. He told the king that He served the Lord God Most High and that God had given him the answers that Nebuchadnezzar was searching for.
Daniel 2:28, 31-36 - But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these; Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
Daniel described a large statue. It was a very interesting statue. It's head was made of gold. It's chest was made of silver. It's belly and upper legs were made of brass. It's lower legs were made of iron, and it's feet and toes were made of iron and clay mixed.
This statue stood there until a stone came from somewhere and smashed into it breaking it to tiny pieces. These pieces scattered into the wind like dust. But, the stone that hit it grew into a giant mountain.
What a strange dream! But, this dream had a meaning. This dream was God telling King Nebuchadnezzar about some things that were going to happen in the future.
Each part of the statue was made up of different material. These materials went down in value, but went up in strength.
King Nebuchadnezzar had been given a large kingdom by God. He was the ruler of a vast empire, and he was the head of gold.
But there would come another kingdom, the silver of the chest that wouldn't have the power of King Nebuchadnezzar. However, this kingdom would be stronger than the Babylonian kingdom and so they would be able to defeat it.
Their reign wouldn't last very long, though. Another kingdom would come along. This kingdom would be the brass of the belly and legs. Again, they wouldn't be as powerful as King Nebuchadnezzar, but they would have a stronger army. They would take control of the brass kingdom.
This kingdom would be the iron kingdom of the lower legs. The military might of this kingdom would be very strong! But, they wouldn't have the ability to control their domain like Nebuchadnezzar could.
At the end of this kingdom, there would be both strong and weak leaders. That's why the feet and toes had strong iron and weak clay in them.
The stone that would come and destroy the statue was the Lord God Almighty. There would be a time when He came down and conquered all of the nations of the world. Then, this stone would grow into a mountain that would rule the entire earth!
Daniel 2:46-47- Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him. The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.
King Nebuchadnezzar was very impressed! He had asked the impossible. But, the God of Daniel was a God that could do the impossible!
Daniel 2:48-49- Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon. Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.
Daniel became a very important man in the kingdom of Babylon. And, his friends also became leaders in the land.

But, Daniel had made a mistake. He had let King Nebuchadnezzar worship him. He should have said, "Worship the Lord God Almighty! Not me." But, he didn't. And, God was going to have to teach him a lesson about that.

Monday, June 4, 2018

One Day Soon (poem)

One day soon
The trumpet shall blast,
We'll gather together-
Going home at last.
The Shepherd will come
To bring his sheep in;
He'll sheer from their lives
The effects of their sin.
One Day Soon!

One day soon
Our tears will dry,
No grief to bear,
No need to cry,
No dread of fear,
All pain will cease-
He'll wrap his lambs
In robes of peace.
One Day Soon!

-Pat Gowdy

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Ooey Gooey Cake recipe

1 1/5 cup flour
2 cups almond flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
12 TBS melted butter

Preheat oven to 350*. Spray a 9X13 pan with non stick spray and lightly dust with sugar.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, almond flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together well.
Add in the eggs, vanilla, and butter (making sure that the butter is not too hot).
You want to mix this together well and then press it into the bottom of your pan.

8 oz cream cheese
3 large eggs
2 cups powdered sugar
1 stick butter
1 tsp vanilla

In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese down some then add in the egg, vanilla, and butter.
Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula making sure to get all the lumps out.
Add in the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. If you're doing this by hand just get it as smooth as possible.
Pour this over the mixture that you pressed into the bottom of the 9X13 pan.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. The top will look a little brown and puffed up, but it should be a little jiggly when done.
Remove from oven and let set for at least 3 hours before cutting it.

Friday, June 1, 2018

If I Were A Rich Man

“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.” (I Tim. 6:17)
He used the term “uncertain riches” indicating that riches themselves are not as great as they appear. Yet most people live under the impression that all of life’s troubles would be fixed if only they had a million dollars. That’s why the lottery and those big-money game shows on television are so popular.
People think riches are like a magic wand. They think that life is magically made all the better if one can just get his hands on a lot of money. According to the Bible, that isn’t true. That notion is a magic wand from the devil, and it cannot be trusted.
Consider the lives of some of these people who won the lottery . . .
Evelyn Adams is a two time winner of the New Jersey state lottery, in 1985 and 1986. In all, she’s won over $5 million . But she says, “Winning the lottery isn't always what it's cracked up to be.” Today, her money is all gone and she lives in a trailer.
William "Bud" Post won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988 but now lives on his Social Security.
In 1993, Suzanne Mullins won $4.2 million in the Virginia lottery. She used the promised yearly lottery payments as collateral for a loan and is in terrible debt today.
Ken Proxmire once won $1 million in the Michigan lottery. Within five years, he had filed for bankruptcy.
Willie Hurt of Lansing, Michigan, won $3.1 million in 1989. Two years later he was divorced, broke, a cocaine addict, and charged with murder.
Charles Riddle of Belleville, Mich., won $1 million in 1975. Afterward, he got divorced, faced several lawsuits and was indicted for selling cocaine.
The magic wand didn’t work for them. Satan and his salesmen told them it would work wonders in their lives, and they believed it, but it only left them worse than it found them.
Friend, if you think money is the answer—the thing that makes life so enjoyable and fulfilling—then I suggest you spend some time around wealthy people. You’ll see that most of them aren’t happy, they don’t have close and happy families and marriages, and they have very few real friends.
There’s an old proverb that says the wise man carries his possessions with him. That is, his real wealth is on the inside, not on the outside.
Do you have the character to stay in a marriage and make it work? If so, you have some wealth. Do you have the character to train your children up in the ways of God and firmly correct them when they need it? If so, then you have even more wealth. Do you have the character to be an active member of a Bible-believing church—to labor in its ministry and to sit under the straight teaching and preaching of the word of God week after week without getting offended and leaving? If so, you are rich, my friend, very rich indeed. You have something that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet do not have, and they couldn’t buy it with all the money that they do have. They have a defective magic wand. You have the “true riches” of Luke 16:11.
Material wealth is coveted by people in all walks of life, but it doesn’t work the magical wonders that that folks expect. It amounts to defective merchandise promoted by Satan’s salesman. Don’t buy it. Don’t be the devil’s fool. If riches increase, okay, but don’t set your heart upon them (Psa. 62:10). They simply cannot be trusted.
- James L Melton