Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Saviour (who saves)! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest in silent satisfaction and in His love He will make no mention of past sins or even recall them; He will exult over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3: 17
“O little bird that sings
Long before the glad day springs,
What radiant victory
You show to me.
You sing of conquering faith,
And of life subduing death,
And of joy before the light
Has vanquished night.
God of the sweet bird-song,
Let us all be borne along
By this triumphant mirth
That is not of earth.
Foreseeing dawn, would we
Now exult melodiously,
And sing before the light
Has vanquished night.”
Today’s Study Texts:
“As an eagle that stirs up her nest, that flutters over her young, He spread abroad His wings and He took them, He bore them on His pinions. So the Lord alone led him; there was no foreign god with Him.”
Deuteronomy 32: 11, 12
“In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams by which his spirit was troubled and agitated and his sleep went from him…Then Daniel went to his house and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, his companions. So that they would desire and request mercy of the God of heaven concerning the secret, that Daniel and his companions should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.”
Daniel 2: 17, 18
“The Furnace of Affliction: - Part 8
“A Forgotten Vision and A Remembered God”
“He (she) knows God rightly who knows Him everywhere.”
When I face challenging situations in my life, do I turn to God first?
“God is not far away for us. Rather He awaits us every instant in our action, in the work of the moment. There is a sense in which He is at the tip of my pen, my brush, my needle.”
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Have I experienced in my own life the sense of God’s presence during a time of immense perplexity?
“In order to form a habit of conversing with God continually, and referring all we do to Him, we must at first apply to Him with diligence.”
“One of the most powerful concepts, one which is a sure cure for lack of confidence, is the thought that God is with you and helping you. This is one of the simplest teachings in religion, namely, that Almighty God will be your companion, will stand by you, help you, and see you through.”
Norman Vincent Peale
King Nebuchadnezzar had only been on the throne of Babylon for two years when a rather unusual occurrence transpired. It is important for us to recognize that being a young king with only two years “under his belt,” I’m certain Nebuchadnezzar not only wanted to be successful, he also wanted his subjects, the Babylonian population, to admire his wise leadership. So you might be able to imagine the frustration he felt when he had dreams that somehow seemed to be of consequence and yet when he awoke, he couldn’t remember what the dreams were about.
However, since the king had a palace full of “magicians, enchanters, soothsayers, and the sorcerers, as well as the Chaldean diviners to tell him his dreams” (Daniel 2: 2), Nebuchadnezzar wasn’t worried. He just gave orders that all his visionaries come before him to solve the pesky problem which kept him awake at night. As Daniel’s record tells us, “the king said to them (his wise men), ‘I had a dream and my spirit is troubled to know the dream.’” (Daniel 2: 3, Amplified Bible). Frankly, this was indeed a strange request. The king wasn’t concerned about the meaning of the dream at first. His problem was that he couldn’t even remember what it was that he had dreamed about. Now don’t think that the group of supposedly “wise men” who surrounded the king didn’t realize the pickle they were in. It was rather easy to con the king when he told them what he had dreamed. If you don’t believe me, all you have to do is look at some monthly magazine, even respected ones that carry astrological readings for signs you were supposedly born under. The fact is that most blurbs are so general they could fit the situation of any person anywhere on earth. To be blunt – what a racket!
As we find out in Daniel 2, Daniel and his three friends belonged to this band of kingly advisors. They were lumped right in with the sorcerers, magicians and enchanters. Not a “Godly” group to be certain. So when the con-artists couldn’t meet the king’s demand and tell him what it was that he dreamed, the short-tempered Nebuchadnezzar blew his stack: “I know with certainty that you are trying to gain time, because you see the thing is gone from me…If you will not make known to me the dream,” he threatened, “there is but one sentence for you; for you have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, hoping to delay your execution until the time is changed” (Daniel 2: 8, 9).
Having already told his phony wise men that “if you do not make known to me the dream with its interpretation, you shall be cut in pieces and your houses shall be made a dunghill!” (Daniel 2: 5), the king was obviously not going back on his promise. If anything, in his fury, he would immediately see that their punishment was swiftly carried out. Daniel gives us a glimpse into the king’s emotional state when he wrote that, “the king was angry and very furious and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed” (Daniel 2: 12). When you mix a rash emotional nature with power, the result can be devastating for the king didn’t stop to consider the fact that his hasty decision would end the lives of some of his brightest palace confidents. Instead of giving himself a “cooling off” period of time, Daniel 2: 13 reveals that the, “decree went forth that the wise men were to be killed, and the officers sought Daniel and his companions to be slain” (Daniel 2: 13).
Praise God that when the king forgot his dream that Daniel and his three Godly companions remembered their God and Daniel “returned an answer which was full of prudence and wisdom” (Daniel 2: 14). Daniel spoke with Arioch, the executioner of the king’s guard…He said to Arioch, ‘why is the decree so urgent and hasty from the king?’ Then Arioch explained the matter to Daniel “(Daniel 2: 15). As I read this passage, Daniel and his three Hebrew companions somehow must have missed the debacle at the palace so the Bible says that Arioch, “explained the matter to Daniel” who in turn asked for a meeting with the king and it was granted. “Daniel went in and desired of the king that he would set a date and give him time, and he would show the king the interpretation” (Daniel 2: 16). WOW! I don’t know about you but Daniel had a great deal of confidence telling the king to set a date. But I must quickly point out that the foundation of Daniel’s confidence was not in himself. For the next two verses tell us where his trust was placed. “Then Daniel went to his house and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions. So that they would desire and request mercy of the God of heaven concerning this secret, that Daniel and his companions should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon” (Daniel 2: 17, 18).
There are three specific lessons I want to draw our attention to in this story:
Lesson 1: Daniel could feel confident asking Arioch (his potential executioner) if he could personally talk to the king because he knew the king. Remember the vegetables and water meal-plan. Well, as we learned yesterday, when the king personally witnessed the healthy appearance and great wisdom exhibited by the four Hebrews, when they were brought before him, he chose to have a discussion with them, actually testing their knowledge. “The king conversed with them, and among them all none was like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.” But hold on a moment, there’s more to this particular passage in Daniel 1: 19. Yesterday I underscored the fact that Daniel and his friends never forgot their Hebrew names. They never forgot who they belonged to. But today I want to add some more to this thought. For there was someone else who didn’t and couldn’t forget these 4 Hebrews. After impressing the king with their “ten times smarter” wisdom, the Bible tells us that “therefore they were assigned to stand before the king” (Daniel 1: 19). For those of you who are “Garden Regulars,” you have probably already guessed what I had to do. I got out my Hebrew Concordance to check the Hebrew word used for “before” which is “pâneh.” While this word is used with wide variation, the first meaning listed is “the face.” In other words, these young men stood facing the king every day. Now don’t tell me Nebuchadnezzar didn’t know and recognize them. So when word came that Daniel wanted a hearing, it may well have struck the king that his hasty response to the con men included Daniel and his three friends who the king didn’t put in the same class with his phony advisors. We might think from a human viewpoint that Daniel was taking his life in his hands when he ventured into the presence of the king but he knew the king. He came to see, to face the king he stood before, a king who recognized him immediately. And this is an important lesson for us. Don’t mistake me, I’m not comparing our heavenly Father in any way to Nebuchadnezzar for our Father is gracious, kind and long-suffering. However, what I am saying is that you and I can have great confidence when we come into the presence of our King when we know Him. Especially when we have witnessed how trustworthy He is. As the old-hymn “Only Trust Him” states, “Yes, Jesus is the truth, the way, That leads you into rest; Believe in Him without delay, And you are fully blest. Only trust Him, Only trust Him now.” When you know the King, you can stand before Him knowing that He will do what’s best for you, His precious child, no matter the circumstances you find yourself in.
Lesson 2: Daniel could feel confident promising that an answer would be given to the king because he had three praying friends standing with him. This particular story just carries within it the aroma of intercessory prayer. Several years ago, I faced a very tough business problem and I asked 6 special friends, people who have been in my life for many years, to pray for me on a certain day and at a certain time. I can’t begin to tell you what it was like to know that I was encircled by prayer during a very tense meeting. It gave me a sense of confidence in a very difficult situation. And many times as I reflect on that day, it has helped me to get through other tough moments for I recall that I sensed the calmness and peace that day that came from having praying friends. Recently, a dearest Garden friend asked me to pray for her, which I just love doing. The next day she emailed me, “Everything isn’t worked out yet but I am feeling better about the situation knowing you are praying.” Never underestimate the power from heaven that is released when we pray for each other.
Lesson #3: Daniel could feel confident about this life-threatening situation because His God had proved Himself over and over. While going through the challenge of being plucked from their families and homes and taken to the palace of a foreign idol-worshipping king, the four Hebrews had seen their God bestow upon them showers of blessings – good health, exceptional wisdom, heavenly discernment and the strength to withstand the temptations that the Babylonian king thought would make them turn their backs on the God of heaven and earth. As one Christian writer penned about this experience: “Their faith was strong in the consciousness that God had placed them where they were, that they were doing His work and meeting the demands of duty. In times of perplexity and danger they had always turned to Him for guidance and protection, and He had proved an ever-present help. Now they submitted themselves anew to the Judge of the earth, pleading that He would grant them deliverance in their time of special need. They did not plead in vain. The God whom they had honored, honored them.” In the words of Daniel, “Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision in the night, and Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered, ‘Blessed be the name of God forever and ever! For wisdom and might are His! He changes the times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals the deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him. I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers, who has given me wisdom and might and has made known to me now what we desired of You, for You have made known to us the solution to the king’s problem” (Daniel 2: 20-23, Amplified Bible).
Thankfully, our God promises that He is the same…yesterday…today…and tomorrow. And if He could take His children through the darkness thousands of years ago, He can take you and me through the darkness today. And with Daniel and his three friends, we too will declare: “I thank You and praise You, O God.”
“I asked the Lord
for a bunch of fresh flowers
but instead He gave me an ugly cactus
with many thorns.
I asked the Lord
for some beautiful butterflies
but instead He gave me
many ugly and dreadful worms.
I was threatened,
I was disappointed,
But after many days,
I saw the cactus bloom
with many beautiful flowers,
and those worms became
flying in the spring wind.
God’s way is the best way.”
Written from prison
Peace to Light
“I do not ask, O Lord, that life may be
A pleasant road;
I do not ask that Thou wouldst take from me
Aught of its load.
I do not ask that flowers should always spring
Beneath my feet;
I know too well the poison and the sting
Of things too sweet.
For one thing only, Lord, dear Lord, I plead,
Lead me aright –
Though strength should falter, and though
heart should bleed –
Through Peace to Light.
I do not ask my cross to understand,
My way to see;
Better in darkness just to feel Thy hand
And follow Thee.
Joy is like restless day; but peace divine
Like quiet night;
Lead me, O Lord, - till perfect day shall shine,
Through Peace to Light.”
Adelaide Anne Procter
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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