Monday, January 19, 2009

Sunday Devotional...Lessons From Daniel

Today was my first Sunday being back in Bloomington, which allowed me to attend Sherwood Oaks Christian Church. The pastor there is Tom Ellsworth; he does a great job at delivering messages from the Bible that are easily understood by all who listen. He also does a great job of using Biblical stories and translating them to the lives we live today.

Today he preached from the book of Daniel. He explained that if we’re looking for a Biblical role model Daniel would be a smart choice. The remainder of the preaching went on from there.

As people, we tend to limit our faith to what happens on Sunday mornings and forget about it once we leave. We live our lives separated from church. The way we often see things is, we have our family life, friendships, and then there’s our spiritual lives. We need to realize that our spiritual lives should never leave us and be a part of everything that we do. We must not limit our faith, for a limited faith is a hollow faith.

The story of Daniel, Shadrak, Meshak and Abendigo was told using five important points or sections; the first being, A Diet That Worked. In short, a king ordered the four men to eat certain foods prepared by his kingdom but the four refused, for the food was not need because it was unholy. Daniel calmly and diplomatically made a deal with the king that would allow the four of them to eat a separate diet of vegetables and water. After ten days they were in must better shape than anyone else. The food was holy and a blessing from God. The message is this; when you do things God’s way He blesses in ways money cannot buy. He blesses you in ways you can’t imagine.

A Dream to Remember is the next part. The king had a dream and asked his servants to interpret the dream. However, the king refused to tell them what the dream was. This was not logical as there’s really no way someone can interpret a dream without knowing what the dream was. Despite this, Daniel prayed about it and God gave him the meaning of the dream. Daniel told the king what it meant, though he did not boast about what he had done. Instead, he gave credit and praise to God for giving him the vision of what the dream meant. Take this; in everything that happens in your life give credit, praise and glory to God.

The third is Faith In Fire. The king ordered everyone to bow down to false gods when certain music played but the Shadrak, Meshak and Abendigo refused. They responded, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up,” from Daniel 3:16-18.

They were thrown into the fire, only they did not burn. When the king looked into the furnace, he saw four men instead of four. It was God, Himself. Lesson: God never said he’d keep you out of the fire, He did say He’d walk through the fire with you to make you better in the end.

The fourth is Read the Writing on the Wall. Daniel told a new king the story from God about the last kings dream. A hand from God literally wrote this on a wall. The king was, however, stubborn and refused to take heed in order to prevent anything bad from happening. Lesson: Learn lessons from the past.

Lastly, Character Challenged by Envy. Have you ever noticed that those who go through life successful and faithfully are often envied (Tim Tebow immediately comes to mind)? This happened to Daniel and he was thrown into the lions den, only he lived and was unscathed. Lesson: Don’t let envious things of his world draw you in.

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