Chapter 12: Faith that Defeats Death

JESUS AND THE DEAD GIRL

 Mark 5:21-24, 35-43:“When Jesus had crossed over by boat to the other side of the Lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the Lake.  Then one of the synagogue rulers named Jairus, came there.  Seeing Jesus, he fell at this feet and pleaded earnestly with him. ‘My little daughter is dying.  Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.  So Jesus went with him.

          While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the House of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. ‘Your daughter is dead’, they said. ‘Why bother the teacher anymore?’

 Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler: ‘Don’t be afraid; Just Believe.’ He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion with people crying and wailing loudly.  He went in and said to them, ‘Why all this wailing? The child is not dead, but asleep.But they laughed at himAfter He put them all out, he took the child’s Father and Mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was.  He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha Koum!’ (which means, ‘little girl, I say to you get up!’) Immediately, the girl stood up and walked around.  At this they were completely astonished.  He gave her strict orders not to let anyone know above this, and told them to give her something to eat. 

 1 Corinthians 15:54-56: “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

         This is an interesting story in that there is a story within a story.  Jairus, a ruler in the synagogue was begging and urging the teacher to come before his daughter dies.  I can imagine him saying, “Hurry Teacher, she is dying.” As Jesus headed towards his home, the woman with the issue of blood came up behind him and touched His cloak interrupting his rescue mission.  The woman with the issue of blood, through her great faith, drew power out of Jesus and was healed from the suffering which had bound her for twelve years.  Jesus changed his course and searched for the person who had touched him. He intently looked for the person who had drawn power out of him.  He stopped to find out and spoke healing words into this woman’s life. And while he was still speaking, Jairus’ servants came to inform him that the girl has now died and there was no use in bothering the teacher any longer.  Death was so final in their minds and hearts.  I loved how Jesus stirred Jairus’ heart to faith, which had now sunk and was downcast: “Do not be afraid, just believe.” “Let not your heart be troubled, for I have overcome the world” resounded so loudly in my spirit when I read this passage.  “Jairus, have faith that she will be alright, have faith that I could heal her.” Further down, Jesus proclaimed that wailing was not necessary because the girl was not dead, only sleeping.  “Where, O death is your victory?  Where, O death is your sting?” Even death obeys him.  I didn’t want us to miss Christ’s power in this scene.  In Genesis, we recall that the triune God, made Adam in his own image out of dust and breathed life into his nostrils. He is the giver of life. 

 Read Ezekiel 37:4-10:Then he (the Lord) said to me (Prophet Ezekiel), ‘Prophesy to these bones and say to them, Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: ‘I will make breathe enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life.  Then you will know that I am the Lord.’ So I prophesied as I was commanded.  And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.  I looked, and the tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there is no breath in them.  Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it. ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come from the four winds. O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may life.’ So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.”

         God’s power is life giving power.  It is the power that resurrected Christ from the grave. Christ also encourages us in our defeat and sadness through his written or spoken words.  . His words and command to Jairus in the face of tragedy and loss was: “Do not be afraid, just believe” which stirred faith in Jairus’ heart. Jesus always delivers. Jairus’s awakened daughter was now a testimony of the power of God, which sealed Jairus’s heart to Christ. (Jesus is always after our hearts. I also did not want us to miss that Jesus ignored the discouraging news brought by Jairus’ servant.  It was as though he was proclaiming: “Do not limit me to what you see (for my power extends beyond death), just believe with all your heart and it will be done as you have believed.”  Jesus also dismissed those who scoffed at Him when He made the remark that the girl was only sleeping.  He only took with Him those who believed and had faith that He could revive her.  He is not pleased by unbelief and removed it from around him.  I wanted to leave you with the Scripture from the book of Hebrews concerning unbelief:

 Hebrews 3:12-14:See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the Living God.  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.  We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.”     

 FAITH DEFEATS DEATH THROUGH CHRIST

Chapter 11: Faith Bares more Faith

JESUS AND THE SON OF THE OFFICIAL

 John 4:46-53:“Once more He (Jesus) visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine.  And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum.  When the man heard that Jesus has arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.  ‘Unless you people see miraculous sign and wonders’, Jesus told him, ‘You will never believe.’  The royal official said, ‘Sir come down before my child dies.’Jesus replied, ‘You may go.  You son will live.’ The man took Jesus at his word and departed.  While he was still on the way, his servant met him with the news that his boy was living.  When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, ‘The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour.’  Then the Father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus said to him, ‘Your son will live.’  So he and his household believed.  This was the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed, having come from Judea.” 

          The royal official was distressed and in desperation came to Jesus hoping that Jesus would accompany him to Capernaum where his son laid sick.  Time was of essence and the tone of his plea was urgent.  Death was inevitable and certain in his mind. Sensing the unbelief of the royal offical, Jesus made this statement:  ‘Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe.’  This particular passage reminded me of Jesus’ disciple, Thomas, who refused to believe of Jesus’ resurrection unless he saw it for himself and Thomas believed after he had encountered the resurrected Christ. 

        John 20:24-28:“Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.  So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.’ A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them.  Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace, be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands.  Reach out your hand and put it into my side.  Stop doubting and believe.’  Thomas said to him, ‘My lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”

 Romans 8:24“For in this hope we are saved.  But hope that is seen is no hope at all.  Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” 

          It’s the very definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  There is a blessing in believing without seeing.  Death was no match for Christ (He raised Lazarus from the dead). The royal official didn’t understand that Christ is the resurrection and the life and that death had no power over him as stated below in 1 Corinthians 15:54-56“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

        Jesus’ reply to the official anguished plea is “You may go and your son will live.”  The official took Jesus at his word and believed that his son will be okay.  He had faith in the Son of God. Then news came to him that his son lived and he inquired of his servant as to the time of the healing and it was the exact time when Christ spoke life into the boy from afar.  This resulted in his whole household believing in Jesus. I am thankful for Jesus’s patience with us and our unbelief.  Help our unbelief!!!!!!!

FAITH BARES MORE FAITH.

FireProof and our Covenant Relationship with Christ

 

Fire Proof and our covenant relationship with Christ

        I have a habit of watching a movie over and over again and sometimes a specific part of a movie and in time God has a way of revealing his plans in its perfect timing. I was really thrilled when Fire Proof came out that such a quality Christian movie had made it to the masses, especially on a topic that is closest to God’s heart:          The covenant of Marriage. In case you haven’t noticed, it has been Satan’s battlefield for many who have been scared and wounded by it and also has distorted what it was meant to reflect in their lives: The perfect covenant marriage between us and our Savior Jesus Christ. He created woman for man, a helper (Genesis 2).

        According to Ephesians 5:23-31: Man is supposed to love his wife as Christ loved the church and a woman is to honor and submit to his leadership to the glory of God. I have often wondered how people like the main characters, Caleb and Katherine, make marriage work when they themselves do not know love (God himself) and try to fill a void in their lives that could only be filled by God. It is His rightful place which he graciously allow us to let him come in. Blows my mind!!!!! Our hearts are His. All that we are is His. It all belongs to Him and he allows us to choose whether to allow Him to what is rightfully His? He is so other…gracious, loving, and a merciful God.

        Okay, I am feeling really humbled right now because who am I to talk about marriage when I have neither been engaged or married, but have waited patiently for His leading and confirmation whom He will send or has already sent in my life. I know that man sees on the outside appearance, but God looks at the heart. Therefore, it is wise to trust in His leading because nothing is hidden from him and all is laid bare before him. It is not a choice to be taken lightly because that relationship could either encourage you to love God more or pull you away from Him. Praise be to God who will never let go of us (John 10:29-30).

This particular scene in Fire Proof is the very part that brought me to my knees. Caleb was given the Love Dare book from his father in the hopes to save his marriage which was a 40 days process. Caleb got more than what he had hoped for. He encountered the living God (Love Himself) and Katherine (his soon to be ex-wife) had seen that nothing about him was normal anymore. He admitted to her not wanting to do the love dare at first, but God had changed his heart. Here are his words:

Caleb:I didn’t understand what love was(accepted Christ), and once I understood that I wanted to do it (The Love Dare Challenge).

He kneels beside Katherine’s sick bed and says the following:

1) I am so sorry

2) I have been so selfish

3) For the past seven years, I have trampled on you with my words and my actions

4) I have loved other things when I should have loved you

5) In the past few weeks God has given me a love for you that I have never had before

6) I have asked God to forgive me and I am praying, I am hoping that somehow you will be able to forgive me to.

7) Katherine, I do not want to spend the rest of my life without you.

On August 25th, I spent time with three of my favorite kiddos while their mamma left for a hair cut appointment. Never a dull moment with those “tell it like it is” souls and with the purest motives. Let me recapture a part of our conversation:

I have a James Avery purity ring called “Lovers knot”, which I wear on my wedding finger.

 

EG:Mimi, who are you married to?”

Mimi:I am married to Jesus Christ” and pointing to both sister I said: “You are married to him, and you are married to him”

EG and SB: “We are too young to be married!”

Mimi:“(okay, how do I respond to that, help me Lord)”

JW:“Hey you forgot about me”

EG and SB:“He can’t be a wife” I don’t remember their exact words)

Mimi: “He is your Master”

JW:“(He smiles)”

HOW DO CALEB STATEMENTS TO KATHERINE COMPARE TO MY COVENANT RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST?

1) I am so sorry Lord

2) I have been so selfish, I have not loved you with my whole heart, strength, and mind

3) For the last 11 years, I have trampled over your love/sacrifice with my words and actions

4) I have loved other things (family, career, friends, life’s pleasures, ministry, and even money), when I should have loved you. ( Love Him first, then others through his love)

5) In the last 3 months you have given me a renewed love for yourself

6)I repent and I am asking for your forgiveness and for the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit to restore me wholeheartedly to you. You are a Jealous God and as your bride my heart should be beating for you. I should rejoice over things that bring joy to your heart, and cry over things that break your heart and do your perfect will as your Holy Spirit leads me according to your purpose.

Your love is an ocean and I swim in your unending love. You are my dream!

 

Revelation 3:19-21:19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. 21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.

 

Worship Songs:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-TMEuo3V2c

RETURN TO YOUR BRIGEGROOM WHO PATIENTLY WAITS FOR YOU!!!!

Chapter 10-Desperate Faith

JESUS AND THE BLIND MEN

 Matthew 9:27-31: “As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, ‘Have mercy on us , Son of David!’ When they had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ ‘Yes, Lord they replied.’  Then He touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith will it be done to you’; and their sight was restored.  Jesus warned them sternly, ‘See that no one knows about this.’ But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region. (Yes! It is very hard to keep quiet about Jesus)  

         After healing the ruler’s daughter and the bleeding woman, Jesus was met with these two blind men.  I would like to redirect your thoughts to another passage in the Old and New Testament, respectively:

 Isaiah 61:1-3“The spirit of the sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind us the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom to the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of as spirit of despair.”

 In Luke 4:21, Jesus read this very passage of scripture from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and declared this in the end:

Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”  

         Whether these blind men, whose livelihood had been reduced to begging for their survival either in the inside or outside the Synagogue, heard of His miracles or of His sermon is not understood.  Their Lives were devoid of simple pleasures in life such as seeing the rising or setting of the Sun, the joy of looking at the faces of their loved ones, and the ability to work and provide for themselves or their families: prisoners of literal darkness. Jesus had always emphasized that he desired, “Mercy rather than sacrifice.”  They cried: “Have mercy on us” even though it was underserved compassion and kindness they were requesting.  They also recognized His Jewish heritage as coming from the line of David.  I love how He examined their hearts and their spiritual standings: “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Do you have faith in me, in my ability to do this miracle in your life?” “Do you believe that you can be healed by my power?” They replied, “Yes, Lord.”  They recognized His nobility, power, and trusted in Him and according to their faith, they were touched and healed. Their desperate faith moved Christ into action. 

 HE IS MOVED BY DESPERATE FAITH

Chapter 9- He stirs our faith through His promises

THE WIDOW OF ZAREPHATH

 1 King 17:1-16: “Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”  Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there.  So he did what the Lord had told him.  He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there.  The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. Some time later, the Brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land.  Then the word of the Lord came to him (Elijah): ‘Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there.  I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.’ So he went to Zarephath.  When he came to the town gate, a widow was gathering sticks.  He called to her and he asked, ‘would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?’  As she was going to get it, he called, ‘And bring me, please, a piece of bread.’ ‘As surely as the Lord your God lives,’ she replied, ‘I don’t have any bread—-only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug.  I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.’ 

Elijah said to her, ‘Don’t be afraid.’  Go home and do as you have said.  But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.  For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel says ‘The jar of flower will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the Land.’  She went away and did as Elijah had told her.  So there was food everyday for Elijah and for the woman and her family.  For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.” 

         It was a season of drought and this widow and her son were facing a gloomy future. Her tone to Elijah was: “I am gathering stick so that I may make something for my son and I, eat it and die.”  There was no hope in her voice.  I did not want to speculate how she knew that he had another God than hers because she states: “As surely as the Lord your God lives I don’t have much to offer you,” when she had been His designated vessel to provide His anointed with food and beverage. 

          The request was greater than what the widow could supply, impossible!  I love how Elijah stirred her heart towards faith by following his request with a promise from the Lord that her supply would be abundant until rain returned to the Land.  She took the Lord at His word and fed His anointed first and then made some for her and her son.  The promise was fulfilled and her uncertain faith became a believing faith.  Later in the Scriptures, the widow’s son died and that Elijah revived him to life in the power of the Lord.  And the widow made this final statement:

1 Kings 17:24: “Then the woman said to Elijah, ‘Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.’  Bingo!!!!!!

          The widow’s obedience coupled with her belief in the promises led to her faith in the God of Elijah, who is a God of truth.  He rewarded her abundantly and miraculously more than what she could have hoped for.  He is after all the God of impossibilities.

         This story reminded me of a passage in the New Testament in the Gospel of Mark 1:32-38.  When the Arc Angel Gabriel came to announce the news to Mary, that she would be with child, her response was, “How will this be since I am a virgin? He answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the holy one to be born will be called, Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. 

Numbers 23:19:  “God is not human,that he should lie, not a human being that he should change his mind.  Does he speak and then not act?Does he promise and not fulfill? 

What Promises has the Lord spoken into your lives today?  Wait patiently for him, He will bring it to pass in His perfect timing. 

MAY IT BE AS YOU HAVE SAID IN OUR LORD!!!!!

HE STIRS OUR FAITH WITH HIS PROMISES!!!!

Chapter 8-Great Faith for “Crumbs”

JESUS AND THE SYROPHOENICIAN WOMAN

 Matthew 15:21-28:  “Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region on Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.’ Jesus did not answer a word.  So his disciples came to him and urged him, ‘Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.’  He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.’ The woman came and knelt before him.  “Lord, help me!” she said.  He replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.’  ‘Yes, Lord’, she said, ‘but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.’ Then Jesus answered, ‘Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour.’ 

 Mark 7:24-30: “Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre.  He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret.  In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit came and fell at his feetThe woman was Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia.  She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.  ‘First, let the children eat all they want,’ he told her, ‘for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.’  ‘Yes, Lord’, she replied, ‘but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ Then He told her, ‘for such a reply, you may go; He has left your daughter.’ She went home and found that her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.” 

          A Gentile woman in the land of Sidon and Tyre came to Jesus and pleaded with persistence for her daughter’s deliverance.  “Deliver her from her suffering Lord.” “Have mercy on me a Gentile.” “Heal my daughter.”  I was really surprised that he did not answer her at first, but He wanted her to know on what basis she was approaching him with this request.   It is as though he was saying, “Don’t you know I have come for the lost sheep of Israel first and foremost?” “I have come for my chosen people Israel whom I love.”  “It is not right to attend to and lavish anyone else before them.”

         Her position was compared to that of dogs, which were considered unclean in the Jewish Society.  Her posture (knelt at His feet) indicated her humility and acceptance of this decree and her position.  She did not contest it, but only asked for what was left over: “crumbs of His mercy.”  I loved the fact that she was aware of her classification and disposition as not equal to that of the children of Israel, but was persistent in her request of His mercy and compassion.  He was touched by her faith and desperation for His help: “Then Jesus answered, ‘woman you have great faith! Your request is granted.’” Her daughter was healed because of the great faith she has shown in the Son of David. 

          I am rejoicing that we are all one in Christ, a new creation and He has brought down all human barriers making us one nation under Him:  Colossians 3:11: “Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and is in all.” 

            HE IS CAPTIVATED AND TOUCHED BY GREAT FAITH

Chapter 7: FAITH THAT HONORS GOD

FAITH THAT HONORS GOD

A lot of reading, but for own your good!!! Hang with me. You will marvel that such faith exist and was rewarded and brought Glory to the Living God!!!!!

Refusing the King’s Choice Food:

Daniel 1: 11-16:

Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink (instead of the King‘s choice food). 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.

15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.

Refusing to bow to the King’s Image of Gold:

Daniel 3

1 King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide,[a] and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2 He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. 3 So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it.

4 Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: 5 As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”

7 Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the nations and peoples of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

8 At this time some astrologers[b] came forward and denounced the Jews. 9 They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May the king live forever! 10 Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, 11 and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. 12 But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”

13 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King 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 deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[

c] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”

They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”

25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”

So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”

30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

 Refusing to pray to any other God, but Jehovah!!!

Daniel 6

1 [a]It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, 2 with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. 3 Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. 4 At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. 5 Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”

6 So these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said: “May King Darius live forever! 7 The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. 8 Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” 9 So King Darius put the decree in writing.

10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.

12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”

The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”

13 Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” 14 When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.

15 Then the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, “Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.”

16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”

17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.

19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”

21 Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”

23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

24 At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

25 Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth:

“May you prosper greatly!

26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.

“For he is the living God
and he endures forever;
his kingdom will not be destroyed,
his dominion will never end.
27 He rescues and he saves;
he performs signs and wonders
in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel
from the power of the lions.”

28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus[b] the Persian.

Background:

      God allowed it! Judah has been defeated by the Babylonians, and Jewish Royal subjects were taken captive and brought to Babylon and they would undergo intense training before entering into the service of King Nebuchadnezzar. They would receive the King’s choice food and outstanding training to serve their new leader. They were exiles by force, stripped of their honor, wealth, rights, their names, but not their faith in he living God. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego (Daniel 1:7). I marveled at this picture how it is God who elevates anyone into a place of leadership and honor, but also abases him and strips him of what he has. Wealth and prestige come and go, but our unchanging God remains the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow which is such a great comfort. They have been humbled, but God has spared their lives for His purpose and His favor was upon them even in captivity because instead of rotting in a jail or being killed, he chose them to serve their captor in a Key leadership position. They were to eat of the King’s choice food, but they resolved to not defile themselves and honor God with their bodies and resorted to water and vegetables and God caused favor from their captors and increased their health, knowledge and wisdom. It is even God who gives such courage to honor him in the little where He has placed them because they are prisoners with no rights. Oh how He rewards obedience!

         Their faith will be tested. A golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar was erected and an edict was issued that all subjects were to bow down and worship at the sound of the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music. Those who disobeyed would be thrown into a fiery furnace. I bet the Ten commandments came to life in their minds:

Exodus 20:1-3:1 And God spoke all these words:2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery 3 “You shall have no other gods before[a] me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

They took a stand for their faith and would not defy the God of their ancestors: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who brought them out of slavery and who could once again do it. They knew His command and His character and would give up their lives to honor him. Their stand was firm whether He chose to rescue them or not. The King’s anger burnt against them. He decided to even have the furnace heated seven times hotter in fury and wrath to destroy his disobedient subjects. In the King’s eyes they publicly disrespected, dishonored, and humiliated him. They chose death over disobedience to God, but believed in his rescue should He chose to do so with unwavering faith that honored Him. Maybe they remembered Lot’s wife in Luke 17: 32-33: 32 Remember Lot’s wife! 33 Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. They feared God more than they feared man.

Daniel 3: 16-17:16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King 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 deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[c] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

And God showed up! Hallelujah!!!! He didn’t spare them from the fiery furnace, but protected them in the midst of it. The furnace was heated seven times more to exemplify the ever growing wrath and anger of the King, which in turn consumed those heating it. The three loyal servant of the Most High God, were bound and thrown into it. And instead of being burned up, they were unbound, unharmed, and walking around in the fire with a fourth person who look like the Son of the Gods walking around them. It made King stand up to his feet and inquire: were there not three that you bound and thrown in the fire? The King asked Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to come out and acknowledged and praised the Most High God in the presences of all his Royal Subjects. When they came out the King noticed that they were intact: their skin was not burned, their clothes were not scorched, their hairs were not singed, and they didn’t not smell like smoke. This reminded me of the following two scriptures: “The angel of the Lord (The pre-incarnate Christ) will encamp (take up residence) around those who fear (love) him” Psalm 34:7 and Isaiah 43:1-3:

Isaiah 43:

1 But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze
.
3 For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

The enemy is always at work to discredit God and His subject. Daniel was an outstanding and distinguished servant to the King and the King had purposed to put him in charge of His whole Kingdom and this didn’t settle well with his other Babylonian subjects. They could find no corruption in him so they reasoned that the only way that they could prevent his promotion is to trap him was to catch him praying to His God. So they came up with an edict that should anyone pray to any other God other than the King for the next thirty days will be thrown into the den of lions. It was sealed and approved by the King. Daniel continued to give thanks and prayed to his God. He was summoned before the King, but this time the following prayer was uttered from the King who was distressed all night long about it: “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”. God did just that and answered the King‘s prayer. He shut the mouth of the Lions and rescued His loyal servant and fed all those who falsely accused Daniel along their wives and children to the very lions they subjected Daniel. And a decree and praise rose from King Nebuchadnezzar’s mouth:

Daniel 6: 26-28

26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel

For he is the living God
and he endures forever;
his kingdom will not be destroyed,
his dominion will never end.
27 He rescues and he saves;
he performs signs and wonders
in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel
from the power of the lions
.”28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus[b] the Persian