DAILY DISCIPLINE #101
By Colleen Donahue
Can we walk back for a moment to the beginning of time to the Garden of Eden? You'll remember God had created Adam and Eve to be the masters of everything in the garden except for one tree. "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die." (Genesis 2: 16b-17).
And do you remember how Satan tempted Eve? It wasn't that the apples were going to be better. He got her to believe that if she could know good and evil by eating the forbidden fruit , she could be like God! "For God knows that when you eat of it , your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil. " (Genesis 3:5).
This is the sin that all mankind has inherited from our first parents. We want to be like God. Instead of being dependent and in submission to our dear Creator for all He has given us, we want to stand apart from Him and everyone else. Greatness is in our bones and we want the world to recognize that.
King Nebuchadnezzar was king over the greatest empire in the world at the time of the 6th century B.C. But, that wasn't good enough. He wanted world recognition-he wanted to be as God.
In our first study on the Book of Daniel, you'll remember the king had an alarming dream that Daniel was able to interpret. That dream clearly showed the king that he and his kingdom would not last forever. Moreover, the king lauded the King of Heaven and rewarded Daniel for the truth of it. But, his memory was short as we'll soon see in opening again to.....
The Book of Daniel - When Hard Times Come
Chapters 3 & 4
I. TO BE LIKE GOD
Day 1- King Nebuchadnezzar set up an image that had religious and political significance. No specific god is mentioned and therefore we may infer that it represented the king himself. In government, he was the central figure and now in worship he would be the central god.
Do you know that you and I can be as guilty as King Nebuchadnezzar? When we live our lives by our own will, independent from God our creator, we proclaim our SELF-importance and autonomy. When we seek for the praise and recognition of men rather than God we become like that golden image. Do you find yourself always comparing yourself with others and noting what superior knowledge, talents, and performance you have? All of these are symptoms that we have set our SELF up to be seen and praised by men.
Day 2- What does God say must be our attitude and action to our SELF? Who will really be great in the end?
Matthew 18:1-4 / Mark 9:33-35 / Luke 9: 23-25, 46-48
Day 3- With death by fire, the penalty for NOT worshiping, the people readily complied.
Day 4- But not all. The Bible clearly describes in book after book "the remnant". There will always be a few men or women in every stage of history who will live (or even die) by truth. It has been this "remnant" that has carried the torch of truth to us in our day. So, at that time there were just a few who did not comply with the king's orders.
Daniel 3:8-15 (Genesis 45:7 / 2 Kings 19:4, 30, 31 / Ezra 9:8 / Isaiah 10:20-22)
II. WHEN HARD TIMES COME
Day 5- In those times when we are pressured to act outside of our conscience, it is only our convictions that help us to stand strong. A solid faith in God must be the rock to stand upon in a world set against Him.
Daniel 3: 16-18
Day 6- Don't expect that just because you stand your ground things will get better. For Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego an impossible situation was made worse.
Daniel 3: 19-23
Day 7-With God, deliverance is never too late and never impossible. It would have seemed better to deliver Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego BEFORE they were dropped into the furnace but God chose to BE WITH THEM in the midst of their suffering!
Daniel 3: 24-25
Day 8- God has not promised to keep us from suffering but He does promise His presence with us in the midst of whatever we face.
Isaiah 43: 1-2
Day 9-Often suffering burns away those things that bind us from serving and following God completely. Notice that for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, only their cords were burned off. The fire had had no power over their bodies!
Daniel 3: 24-27
Day 10- So we do not need to fear the hard situations of our lives. The Lord always goes with us. He can never fail us.
Deuteronomy 31: 6-8 / Proverbs 3: 25-26 / Isaiah 41:10
Day 11- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn't need to say anything on behalf of God. God had said enough Himself by this miraculous deliverance and King Nebuchadnezzar now must bow before the King of Kings.
Daniel 3: 28-30
Note: We must remember as we read the book of Daniel that it is primarily a prophetic one. Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are representative of Israel amidst the Gentile nations. They are also a picture of the people of God today amidst a godless world. We may find ourselves in a fire but we cannot be consumed.
III. OUR CREATOR IS NOT IN COMPETITION WITH HIS CREATURES.
He is God and there is no other!
Day 12- It is many years after the fiery furnace incident when King Nebuchadnezzar has another dream. Chapter 4 is unique in that it is actually King Nebuchadnezzar who is writing most of the chapter. It seems like he is addressing the people AFTER the happenings in this chapter. He felt it important to share with his people what God had shown him and before going into particulars he summarizes it for them.......
Daniel 4: 1-3
Day 13- Describe the king's dream this time.
Daniel 4: 4-6, 10-17
Day 14- Once again King Nebuchadnezzar is confident that Daniel will be able to interpret the dream for him.
Daniel 4: 6-9, 18
And upon seeing Daniel alarmed, the king reassures him.
Daniel 4: 19
Day 15- The first portion of the dream is a picture of King Nebuchadnezzar's reign and dominion. But it is more than this. It is also representative of world government in every age of man's dominion until the kingdom of the Lord Jesus will be set up.
Daniel 4: 10-12, 20-22
Day 16- The tree cut down by a "Watcher" from Heaven was God's intervention Himself. The great Babylonian kingdom was cut down when it seemed its strongest. In the prophetic sense, just when man seems at the highest place of purpose and achievement, he will be cut down by the Lord's return to take his church out of the world. ( An event still to come referred to as the Rapture.)
Daniel 4:13-14 (See I Thessalonians 4:16-18 for a description of the Rapture.)
Day 17- King Nebuchadnezzar was to face seven years of insanity. God cut down all that was precious to him - even his mind. But when the ordeal was over, the stump had been left to sprout again. King Nebuchadnezzar was restored and converted after seven years of insanity.
Daniel 4: 15-16 , 23-26
Day 18- Looking forward again in a prophetic sense, the Bible says that between the Rapture of the church out of the world and Christ's second coming there will be seven years of tribulation and insanity in the world such as has never been seen before. But after this seven-year period, the Gentile nations too will be converted.
Matthew 24: 3-14 / Luke 21: 20-28
Day 19- Daniel's long relationship with the king made him care enough to confront him. Daniel did so with tact. He was specific and honest and left the king with hope.
Daniel 4: 27
When we really care about the people we live and work with, then we will care enough to be honest with them.
Proverbs 28: 13 / Isaiah 55:6-7 / Ezekiel 18: 21-22
Day 20- Notice that for Daniel's interpretation and counsel to the king there was a period of twelve months. God had given the king one whole year to heed the dream and Daniel's advice. Could there be a more patient and merciful God?
Daniel 4: 28-33 / Joel 2: 12-14A
IV. WHEN GOD DISCIPLINES
Day 21- Although it is incomprehensible why God would love man as He does, the fact is--He loves each of us dearly and wants us to spend eternity with Him! Therefore, any discipline dealt to us by God , comes from a heart of love and usually after a grace period as we saw in Day 19. What purpose did God have in disciplining King Nebuchadnezzar?
Daniel 4:17, 25B, 32B
(Notice that in all the verses the message is stated using the same words so there could be no mistake.)
Day 22- So it is with discipline that we face in our own life. It is never vindictive or malicious but always so that good can come of it.
Hebrews 12: 5-11
Day 23- God disciplines us as a father disciplines his sons.
Deuteronomy 8:5 / 2 Samuel 7:14 / Proverbs 13:24 / Proverbs 19:18
Day 24- All discipline is painful at the time but when we accept it from God's hand and are trained by it we can take heart.
Hebrews 12: 11-13
Day 25- When the period of King Nebuchadnezzar's "mental exile" was over, the king testifies that he looked "up to Heaven." This is always the pivot point whereby our life can change - i.e. when we look away from our sordid surroundings and look away to God that has the answers and fullness for all of life. When the king lifted his eyes to Heaven, what happened?
Hebrews 12: 34-35
Day 26- The loving discipline of God did for this king what no works or warnings had been able to do before. His testimony now has real meaning because it has been forged through the fire.
Daniel 4: 37
Compare this testimony with his prior ones and see the difference.
Daniel 2: 47 / Daniel 3: 28-29
Day 27- God's purpose for the discipline He allows in our life is always to restore us to fellowship with Himself by dealing with the sin in our life that keeps us from Him. Notice in Daniel 4: 37 that the king finally saw himself for who he was - a prideful man.
Psalm 33: 1-5
Day 28- If God is chastening you, then look up to Heaven and listen.
Job 5: 17-18 / Job 36: 15 / Hosea 6: 1-3
Day 29- King Nebuchadnezzar had submitted to God and learned. He was a different man after his seven years of humbling. Now God was able to restore him and give him even more than he had before!
Daniel 4: 36
Day 30- Submit to God and learn what is needed in your circumstances. Let Him bring your life "into a broad place where there is no cramping."
Job 36:16 / James 4:10
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