Daniel 3 – If God Doesn’t Deliver Us

Daniel 3

Everyone was standing, except my friend. The preacher had made an appeal, and lots of people stood in response to it. But I had one friend who sat through the appeal, and I knew he did it on purpose. He didn’t agree with the appeal, and to be honest, I didn’t either—not entirely. I agreed with most of it, but there was one part I didn’t like. I stayed standing, he remained sitting. After the service I went up to him and told him that he should never be ashamed to sit through an appeal that he didn’t agree with.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were in a similar situation. They may not have realized they were attending a worship service when King Nebuchadnezzar had invited them to attend. They thought it was just the unveiling of the new statue of King Nebuchadnezzar. Soon a loud voice announced that the entire crowd, who was already standing, was to bow down and worship the great statue once the music started to play. Anyone who did not bow down would be thrown into a fiery furnace—a large kiln used to heat the metal for the statue.

The music started, and the entire crowd pressed their heads to the ground. Only three figures remained standing—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. King Nebuchadnezzar was outraged! He demanded that the three “rebels” be brought to him immediately. He threatened them with the fiery furnace, and then offered to give them a second chance. And then those three young men said something that shocked King Nebuchadnezzar, and still shocks me today.

“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.”

But then they said something even more shocking:

“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.”

That was a brave thing to say to the king of the known world, and King Nebuchadnezzar acted just like you might expect him to. He ordered his guards to tie them up and throw them into that fiery furnace. Those guards died from the heat, but the three young men remained alive, walking around in the fire. King Nebuchadnezzar looked more closely and noticed a fourth man in the fire, and recognized Him as the Son of God. He ordered them to come out of the fire, and the three did, unscathed.

I’m not amazed at God’s amazing rescue. I’m amazed at the three young men’s response. “Even if our God does not deliver us and we die, we will still not serve your gods or worship your golden statue.” They loved their God so much that they would willingly die for Him rather than dishonor Him—someone they had never seen before.

This story makes me think, how much do I love my God? When I am faced with a decision that makes me decide between what I believe and what other people think of me, I should let Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s lives be an appeal to myself—and all of us. Let’s not be afraid to stand up for what we believe to be true, and let’s be sure that what we believe is rooted in Christ Alone!

Timmy Baze 😀

This blog will appear on In Christ Alone Devotions soon!

SCRIPTURE PORTIONS TAKEN FROM THE HOLY BIBLE, ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION, COPYRIGHT © 2001 BY CROSSWAY BIBLES, A DIVISION OF GOOD NEWS PUBLISHERS.
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$$$

A feast is prepared for laughter,
and wine makes life happy,
and money is the answer for everything.
Ecclesiastes 10:19 HCSB

When you first read that text, did you experience any cognitive dissonance? Were you a little shocked that Solomon said money was the answer to everything, but Paul said money was the root of all evil? That’s what I thought when I first read this verse, so I decided to do some investigating. Here’s what I found:

For the love of money is the root of all evil.
1 Timothy 6:10 KJV

Did you catch that? Paul says that the love of money is the root of all evil, not money itself. Well once I cleared that up, I began to think more about money. Money is definitely a blessing, and today more than ever, it is the answer to everything. Want to add potatoes to that bean burrito, fresco style? Add $0.79… per burrito, making those two $1.19 burritos turn into a $4.29 meal, which is still much cheaper than any other fast food! Want to visit your parents that live a little over two hours away? Add a tank of gas at $3.79 a gallon, if you’re lucky to find such a good price! Need a new pair of khaki pants because the pen you left in your pants pocket left them ruined? The $35 pairs of khaki’s were a little too much for a pastoral intern stipend, but I did find a name-brand pair at Goodwill for $4—it was the only thing on the whole rack in my size! I guess people who wear 30-32s don’t give to charity! Everything today costs money, and as you can tell from my life experiences, I sure do know!

In today’s world, it’s so easy to spend more money than you really need to! Have you ever walked into a store and come out with a little more than you expected to buy? You and I need to learn to differentiate between the love of money and the responsible use of money! I thought about that, and here are three things I learned from this text that I need to apply to my life:

  1. I need to be responsible with the money God has given to me by using it for His work first, and then worrying about my own needs. It’s a simple way to let God know that I trust Him to provide for my needs. Today I returned my tithe and offerings (online, because my church is tech savvy like that!), which is good. The bad thing is that I hadn’t returned any since the beginning of this year! Now before you start thinking I don’t give my tithe, just know that I have a spreadsheet where I keep track of my revenues and expenses, and it adds up all the tithe and offerings I haven’t returned yet until I return them. It’s that I’m not returning tithe, it’s just that I haven’t made it my first priority. Instead of putting it off, I need to return it on a regular basis! Doing this, say, every two weeks, will keep it on the forefront of my mind! It also lets God know that not only do I trust Him with my money, I am being intentional about trusting Him with it often, not just twice a year. Oh and in case you’re wondering why I keep saying “return” instead of “pay,” it’s God’s money, not mine. I can’t give God something that’s already His, and I certainly can’t “pay” God with His own money!
  2. I need to use my money to bless others, and not just myself. Now here’s something I’m guilty of too! You see, from a young age I’ve been really good about saving money. Typical kids would buy stuff like candy or toys or souvenirs. When their relatives gave them money for Christmas, they would spend it. Not me! Until I had to start paying college tuition and buying any extra things I needed, I saved almost every penny I had! This is good, but it also is bad. I wasn’t using my money to bless others, even though I had the resources to do so. One day near Christmas, my dad and I decided to go shopping for Christmas presents for my relatives. Where else would a young man go to buy Christmas presents for his family than that miraculous place where everything was the same, low price—Dollar Tree! I thought it was appropriate, and honestly, that’s all I could afford. Now like a typical young boy, I didn’t want to waste…err…spend much time shopping for Christmas presents when I could be home playing computer games or watching my favorite TV show—ABC 30 5:00 news! “Oh look!” I said, pointing to a particularly useless and worthless item. “I could buy one pack of those for a dollar, and that would take care of all my aunts, grandmas, girl cousins, Mommy, and Jodi!” He looked at me with this look in his eye. It’s not that he was angry, or even disappointed. It was just his look! Then he explained something to me. He said, “Timmy, I appreciate your efforts to save money, but sometimes there’s a fine line between saving money and being stingy.” I thought about that, and decided not to get that multi-pack of whatever trashy thing it was. I’m pretty sure I spent at least one dollar on everyone that Christmas—and even if I didn’t, I thought much more about what type of gifts the people I was giving for might like. Although it hurt me to see all my hard earned money leave my wallet, that lesson always stuck with me. I should not be stingy with the money God has given me. Yes, I do need to spend it—and I need to spend it thoughtfully on my family, friends, and people around me who need financial help. After all, if I’m saving money for the sole purpose of saving money, am I not falling into the same trap Paul talked about in 1 Timothy 6:10—the love of money?
  3. I need to use my money wisely. For everything in life there is a simple formula for happiness: Jesus, then others, then you. It spells JOY, and there’s no better way to have true joy than to focus all your time and efforts on God first, and then others, and lastly on yourself. Now be sure that you are part of this equation. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in serving others that I forget that I need to take care of myself as well! It’s the same way with money. While it’s true that I need to return God’s portion—tithe—and give offering to God as well, and while I do need to use my money to make others happy rather than myself, I also do need to budget my money so that I have what I need. If I give all the money I earn to the church, I am being wasteful with God’s money. He gave it to me so that I could provide for my needs, and only expects 10% in return. Offerings are extra, but they shouldn’t be all I have if I still have bills to pay and food to buy. If I give all my money to the poor and don’t have love, I am nothing. But if I give all my money to the poor and don’t save enough, I have nothing. Saving money is important, and God wants us to be good stewards of His money. This is why I compare food prices and buy whatever is cheapest, but still healthy. When I need to buy clothes, I try to find good quality clothes on sale for good prices, rather than paying $30 extra for a certain logo. I’m not the best at saving money, and no, I typically don’t buy my clothes at thrift stores (I just got lucky—blessed—that one time). I still need to learn how best to spend money, but I’m doing my best to save as much as I can, because I know that as I get older, I’ll need to use that money for bigger purchases!

To squish Solomon’s and Paul’s ideas together, money is the answer to everything, but it doesn’t have to be your personal answer to everything.

Heavenly Father, thank You for providing for my needs.
Help me to be more faithful in returning Your money to You,
in sharing Your money with others who need it,
and in using Your money to supply my needs.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Too Lazy

Because of laziness the roof caves in,
and because of negligent hands the house leaks.
Ecclesiastes 10:18 HCSB

Laziness has consumed our culture and taken it hostage. Few families today are exempt from this predicament, especially in the United States. This verse is meant to be taken quite literally–God, speaking through Solomon, is telling us to keep up on our house repairs. This verse also has some object lessons that we can apply to our lives in other ways.

  1. Laziness destroys families. Laziness means more arguments and messier houses–and neither of these situations are conducive to psychological health!
  2. Laziness destroys our relationship with God.

This morning I was reading a devotional that explained that we really shouldn’t say “I am saved.” I was taken aback by that thought, but as I kept reading, praying, and then reading this passage, it started to make sense to me. We should not be complacent (lazy) about our relationship with God. If so, our relationship starts to go downhill. We must put effort into growing continually with our Savior. Our salvation is not by our own works, but if we do not put effort into our relationship with God, we will grow farther and farther from Him, and care less and less about His free gift of salvation. We shouldn’t flippantly say, “Oh it’s ok, I’m saved already!” Instead, we should be continually learning in the school of Christ, showing Him that we appreciate the gift of salvation that He is working in our lives. The “justification” part of salvation can be a one-time event, but sanctification is the work that Christ does in us throughout our entire lives. Let’s not be lazy, but instead let God work in us, and work alongside of Him as it is our privilege to do. Being a co-worker with Christ shows Him that we appreciate His incredible gift. Let’s work, not for our own salvation, but for the salvation of those around us!

Father in heaven,
help me to not be lazy in my work, my family,
and especially not in my relationship with You.
Amen.

Keep Looking Up!

-Timmy Baze 😀

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Immaturity vs Leadership

Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, and your princes feast in the morning!
Happy are you, O land, when your king is the son of the nobility, and your princes feast at the proper time, for strength, and not for drunkenness!
Ecclesiastes 10:16-17

Administrators without experience are detrimental to those around them. You can learn to be a leader, but you do not become one overnight. A child is not ready to be a leader yet–he/she must be trained before they can lead. This is why Solomon says that a son of nobility is a better choice, because since he was a child he has been training for leadership. Leaders must be trained.

The princes are also leaders, but they need to be productive. Feasting in the morning means that they will be useless all day! Feasting at the proper time–for strength to continue working, and not for getting drunk–is important. Productivity and a good work ethic both come from God and honor God.

  1. As a leader, I need to be taught in the school of Christ now to be a leader. Christ’s teacher are personal experience, and others’ experience. I need to be willing to learn from those who are experienced around me. If I don’t seek the advice of others, and try to figure things out on my own, I am foolish! I am robbing myself of opportunities for personal growth, and am robbing others of good ideas that I might get from the advice of others.
  2. I need to stay productive and not be a lazy worker. I cannot afford to waste any time–especially in the morning. Wasting time in the morning sets a precedence for the remainder of the day! I need to spend time learning in the school of Christ every morning, and set the precedence of make God’s word my foothold for the entire day.

Lord, help me to do my best
Teach me how to do better work
Give me energy and cheerfulness
Help me to bring into my service the loving ministry of the Saviour
–Ellen G. White, Ministry of Healing, 474

Keep Looking Up!
-Timmy Baze

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Awareness

The toil of a fool wearies him, for he does not know the way to the city.
Ecclesiastes 10:15 ESV

A fool will spend all his time on his “work” and fail to be aware of his surroundings. This is why he doesn’t know the way to the city, and this is further why he is so weary at the end of the day–he has not been aware enough to know the fastest way to the city. Instead, he wanders around trying to find things. He needs to be observant, but he has an acute case of one-track-mindedness. Have a one-track-mind can be a good thing, but in this case, it is detrimental. When uncontrolled, when an intentional effort is not made to be aware of one’s surroundings, it is detrimental. The person with this malady is foolish, not wise.

  1. Am I aware of my immediate surroundings? Should I take a break from my work and “see the sights of the city”? In other words, I need to take breaks to rest, rejuvenate, and reflect on where I am and how best to get there. Hard work is pointless if it has no goal.
  2. Am I aware of my immediate surroundings? When I am with family or friends, am I attentive of their needs, or just my own? I’m a fool if the only person I pay attention to is myself.
  3. Am I aware of my surroundings? Do I realize that there is a world dying around me? I must take time from my busy schedule to serve those around me; and I must take time to figure out the best way to the city–the best way to reach the dying around me.

If I focus only on myself, and not on others, I am a fool. A wise person lives for others, not for themselves.

God,
Please rescue me from foolishness.
Open my eyes to the people in need around me, and make me a blessing to them.
Give me one magnificent obsession–serving You by serving others.
Amen.

Timmy Baze 😀

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The Talkative One

 The words of a wise man’s mouth win him favor,
but the lips of a fool consume him.
The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness,
and the end of his talk is evil madness.
A fool multiplies words,
though no man knows what is to be,
and who can tell him what will be after him?

Ecclesiastes 10:12-14 ESV

  1. If I am wise, my words must all be gracious, building others up, and not in the slightest tearing them down.
  2. Although actions speak louder than words, my words mean a great deal! What I say (and what I don’t say) can give grace or “evil madness”! By the power of Christ in me, I must be careful of what I say.
  3. The fool talks a whole lot! I need to be careful to take time to listen–both in everyday conversations, and in my conversation with my Heavenly Father. Sometimes “listening” is reading the Bible and hearing what God says to me through His inspired word. Sometimes God will speak to me through a song on the radio or through a sermon at church. Sometimes He may speak to me as I am overwhelmed at the beauty of nature. Sometimes He will speak to me as I am writing out thoughts!

Let every person be quick to hear, slow to [decide if they should] speak, slow to anger.
James 1:19 ESV

Father,
Help me to speak words that give grace to others today.

May I not be consumed by my own lips, but rather,
help me to hear Your still, small Voice as I go about my day today.
In Christ’s Name,
Amen.

-Timmy Baze 😀

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The Snake Charmer

If the serpent bites before it is charmed, there is no advantage to the charmer.

Ecclesiastes 10:11 ESV

We–as individuals and as a church–need to present before those around us the matchless “charms” of Christ. If a character trait in myself or a person in the church “bites” someone who is seeking the truth, then forever attached to my person or to that church is a scar of past hurt.

How to avoid this:

  1. We need to work to undo the memory of past hurts by our own actions–new actions–that speak louder than words.
  2. We must ask those whom we may have hurt for forgiveness.
  3. We absolutely must pray for the Spirit of God our own lives and in the lives of the church to change us from the inside out. Outward appearances are easy to change, but the inward character change is a work that can only be accomplished by the Holy Spirit.

As Christians, we can often be deadly and lethal, like a snake. But if we rest in the presence of the Master Charmer–Jesus Christ–we will be controlled by His Spirit and will be able to point others to Him.

Keep Looking Up!

-Timmy 😀

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A New Blog to Check Out!

You’ll want to check out a new blog some friends of mine and I are working on! It’s called “In Christ Alone Devotions” and it will feature a Bible chapter each day with some commentary, then an opportunity for you, the reader, to comment–giving a community of people reading the same chapter of the Bible and then discussing it with each other! The site is www.inChristAloneDevotions.wordpress.com.

Let us know what you think!

 

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Looking to Live – A Story Spanning from Old to New Testaments

We often refer to Hebrews 11 as the faith chapter, but Numbers may very well be the faith book. The entire book tells story after story of people who chose to use their faith, or decided to forget it altogether. One story that illustrates this is the story of the bronze serpent. Although God had been faithfully providing his whining people with manna from heaven each morning, the people began to complain. They came to Moses and told him that they had no water, no food, and detested the worthless bread God had sent. This is interesting, since this bread tasted like wafers with honey, something I would like to eat sometime. Sometimes God answered the peoples’ cry for help, but this time they were asking for something that they were already receiving, they were just tired of the same old dessert. “So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died” (Numbers 21:6 NKJV). The people knew automatically that this punishment was indeed from God and begged Moses to ask God to take the serpents away. Instead of granting their request, God tested his children to see how much faith they had. He told Moses to “make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live” (Numbers 21:8 NKJV). So Moses made a fiery serpent out of bronze, set it on a pole, and whoever was bitten by the serpents, and looked at the bronze serpent, lived.

Jesus knew the story of the bronze serpent well, and He used it when he talked to Nicodemus at night. After Jesus explained to Nicodemus how to be born again, Nicodemus asked, “How can these things be?” (John 3:9 NKJV). Jesus explained this to him with the story of the bronze serpent. He explained that the Son of Man had come down from heaven, “and as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:14-15 NKJV). Just like those who were bitten by the serpents had to look and believe that looking at the bronze serpent would save their lives, we who have been bitten by sin (that’s all of us) must look at Jesus’ sacrifice and believe that He has the power to save our lives. All we have to do is look and live.

Now I’m not sure why God chose a serpent to represent Jesus, and I’m not going to get in to the reason why God allowed some of His children to die. I want to focus on the method God gave for healing. “Look and live.” Simple enough, right? But sometimes we must realize that keeping our eyes focused on one thing gets boring and tiring, the exciting and tempting things the world has to offer are hard to ignore, but we still must focus on Jesus and Him alone!

Immediately following the faith chapter is this powerful quote: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV).

Indeed let us fix our eyes on Jesus! It’s impossible to live without Him!

😀

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The Beginning

I come across lots of people with lots of different answers to lots of different questions regarding God. Sometimes I wonder who is right, but then I think, “if it’s a question about God, shouldn’t we look to the Bible for answers?” This blog will help to do that. It had 4 purposes:

1. Seek to answer questions about God, the Bible, life, etc. from a Biblical-Christian perspective.

2. Give thought-provoking devotionals to build and encourage you, the reader.

3. Discuss issues we as Bible-believing Christians face as we journey towards heaven.

4. Open a window into my life, not that it is a superb example to follow, but because sometimes I can’t keep the things I get myself into to myself.

This blog is not intended to be controversial, although at sometime you may disagree with what I say. I will try my best to make sure that everything, including quotes from others (unless otherwise noted) are in harmony with the Bible, and that any answer or belief is solely based on the Bible. If something on the blog is not in harmony with the Bible, I would invite you to let me know immediately! Enjoy reading, and I pray that you are blessed!