Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Keep your money

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. 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. – Daniel 5.16-17

Belshazzar was desperate to find out what the words on the wall meant. The words were MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN but nobody could figure out what it meant. When some in the room told him about Daniel he called for Daniel and offered him all the riches of the kingdom if he would translate the writing in the wall. He offered him a place in the government as well.

Daniel’s response was a mark of his character – ‘keep your money and your royal clothes and your offer of power. I’ll tell you what it means.’

I like the fact that David had the character to not take any of the stuff he was offered. I think it went back to a long time ago when we decided that he would ‘not defile himself with the king’s meat.’

There is nothing wrong with getting paid for ministry. Paul makes that very clear. But it is wrong when we are paid in any what that might compromise the truth. Daniel did not want to be swayed by the riches. He simply said ‘I will tell you what the words says.’ He didn’t do it out of a desire for ‘filthy lucre.’ He did what God wanted him to do without regard to how much it paid off. 

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

There is a man in your kingdom

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; - Daniel 5.11

Belshazzar was clearly and literally shaken. He needed to know what the writing in the wall meant. He looked for an answer and finally someone said ‘wait, there is a man in your kingdom. He has the spirit of the gods in him (notice how that got corrupted from Nebuchadnezzar’s time), he has the wisdom of the gods and he shed light on things when your father was king. The king trusted him over all the magicians and soothsayers.’

I find it amazing that Daniel’s reputation was so important that he was still remembered even in Belshazzar’s pagan administration. That shows us how much impact he had. He showed how powerful his witness was.  

What would happen if people in our lives were looking for someone who knew God? Would anyone even think of us? Would our names come up?

We must live our lives in such a way than even if those around us don’t totally get it, like the folks above, there know there is something special about us. They need to know that there is something that sets us apart from the rest.

Do our lives present that kind of testimony? 

Monday, 20 November 2017

The writing is on the wall

They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone. In the same hour the fingers of a man's hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster 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. – Daniel 5.4-6

Chapter 5 opens with a new king. Nebuchadnezzar was dead and his son Belshazzar is on the throne. Things have changed. The scene opens at a great royal party. Belshazzar has decided to bring the vessels from the Temple in Jerusalem into the palace and was using them for his debauched party.

We find out than rather than worshipping the God his father had come to worship Belshazzar and the others worshipped gods of silver and gold and bronze and iron and wood and stone.

He thought he was grand. The nation had thrown off the shackles of this foreign God his father had adopted. They were free to party hearty.

But then, suddenly, the writing was on the wall. Belshazzar’s countenance changed. His knees were knocking. He was terrified.  I suspect that all this happened because somewhere in his past He had an encounter with God and he knew exactly what he was doing when he used the Temple utensils at his party.

Now it was time to reckon with God. 

Sunday, 19 November 2017

His works are true

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. – Daniel 4.37

At the very end of the account of Nebuchadnezzar it looks like he finally gets it right. It is the last we hear about him and it appears that he finally understands God. Without reservation he praises and extols the King of heaven. He realises that those rulers who walk in pride God is able to put down.

He also comes the understanding that all of God’s works are truth and that all of God’s ways are just. It took a lot for him to learn that, and it all started with the testimonies of four Jewish captives who chose to honour God in all their choices and decisions.

To a lost world God is not always going to make sense. Not everything makes sense in my sin limited human mind. That’s why it is vital that God’s people live lives where we consistently trust God no matter what comes our way.  

At the end of the day we want people to know, from our lives, that God’s works and true and His was is just. As a result of our contact with us we should desire that they too ‘praise and extol and honour the King of heaven.’ 

Saturday, 18 November 2017

The Most High rules

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 – Daniel 4.32

Nebuchadnezzar has highly exalted himself as the one who had built great Babylon. He was proud of himself.  But then God drove him to live in the fields like a wild beast until he learned something important.

The Most High God rules in the kingdom of men and He gives kingdoms to whomever He wills.

This can be a hard one to understand sometimes when we see all sorts of wicked ruler and evil nations. I admit that I don’t fully ‘get it.’ I don’t understand the rise of the Hitlers and the Stalins and the Pol Pots.

The reason is that I don’t see the mind of God. I don’t always understand His ways. Sometimes there are things that I just have to accept things by faith and trust that one day I will get it.

The truth is that God does allow governments to come to power and he allows them to fall. These are more of the effects of free will and broken people making decisions in a broken sin-cursed world.

The point here though is that leaders need to know that they are where they are because God allows it. It is not of their own skills or ability and nothing for them to be able to brag about.

And more importantly, those who lift themselves up, God is able to abase. 

Friday, 17 November 2017

Mixed signals

Nebuchadnezzar the king, To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you. I thought it good to declare the signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked for me. How great are His signs, And how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And His dominion is from generation to generation.  – Daniel 4.1-3
The king spoke, saying, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honour of my majesty?" While the word was still in the king's mouth, a voice fell from heaven: "King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! – Daniel 4.30-31

At the beginning of this chapter Daniel is praising God. His words speak of what God has done and about how God has used him. Look at his words ‘how great are his signs…how mighty His wonders…His kingdom is everlasting…His dominion is from generation to generation.’

That sounds like he is really coming around. He is saying all the right words.

But then, just a few verses later we see that he really doesn’t have it. ‘Look at great Babylon that I have built!’

The praise goes from God to himself. It goes from ‘God did it’ to I did it all.’ It goes from humility to pride.

We learn right away that pride is a terrible thing. When the king forgot God, God got his attention. Nebuchadnezzar loses everything and lives like an animal. God shows him Who and what is really important. The king is finally going to get this all sorted in his head, but, like a lot of us, it is going to take a little more to get through his thickness.  

Thursday, 16 November 2017

The spirit of the holy God

But at last Daniel came before me (his name is Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god; in him is the Spirit of the Holy God), and I told the dream before him, saying: - Daniel 4.8

I love watching Nebuchadnezzar’s quest to find the true God and I love how God’s men had an impact on him and drew him closer and closer. The king had another dream. This happens right in between a real back and forth by the king. If we read it too quickly we could miss it in the story.

It is the king’s description of Daniel that grabbed my attention – ‘in him is the spirit of the Holy God.’ This once again speaks to Daniel’s clear testimony before the king. It was no longer just a difference. It wasn’t just a matter of being smarter and wiser than the staff magicians. Now the king knew the difference. Daniel was different because the spirit of the holy God lived in him.’

I wonder if that is the impression that I give to other when they know me. Does the Holy Spirit shine in my life so that people know He lives in me? Is that what makes me different? Is that what makes me stand out?