12/04

December 4

I John 3

The more we mature we are in God’s love, in more of His light we live. The more of His light that we know and apply, the better life will be for us and those around us!

In His love, people receive truth of who God is and who we are. We stop believing the lies we were told. His Word is a lamp, showing us the difference between what is upright and what is distorted from His righteousness. The light of His truth shows us how we can walk in wholeness and freedom. When lies are broken, God begins a transformation of our soul, helping us to renew our minds, reprograming our thoughts. “As a man thinks in his hearts, so is he (Proverbs 23:7)” The way we see God, ourselves, and others greatly influences the way we act. God understands this transformation is a process of changing our stinking thinking into learning, accepting, and walking in line with His thoughts. I spoke with a woman recently who said, “It’s taken years, but the Lord is undoing the years of damage I had before I knew Him.” When God does His transformation inside, the manifestation of holy living is shown outside.

In New Testament times, some had to be retaught on what right behavior is. If someone lives a life where sin is normal, the Holy Spirit will guide them into their new life’s normal. Gnosticism was prevalent in the culture, and it crept into the churches, especially those communities greatly influenced by the Greek ideas on spiritualism. The Gnostics believed in Christ, but taught that living a sensual life was fine. They came to that conclusion because

In His love, people learn to trust and open up their hearts to His working. Because we live in a fallen world, there are many people who have been manipulated, misused, abused, betrayed, abandoned, lied to, stolen from, and cheated on. Others have acted outside of God’s best simply because they don’t know the difference between right and wrong and they experience heartache from it. Because of experience in this world, some people grow cold or hard. Others are suspicious, finding it difficult to trust. If we can’t trust, we can’t open our hearts. If we can’t open our hearts, it makes it very difficult to receive God’s love and light. God is patient. God is longsuffering. God is merciful and forgiving. Every day He has new mercies. He continues to work at a pace where we can receive. He knocks on the door of our hearts; He doesn’t knock them down. He doesn’t shame them down. He doesn’t guilt them down. He doesn’t scare them down. He doesn’t condemn them down. God knocks at the door of our hearts with love. He knows we have a will, and He wants to heal and restore us so that we’re willing to receive.

God wants us to walk in His light, but He also know we can’t do it on our own. Living a holy and consecrated life to God is impossible to live on our own. We need to be born again and get a new nature. We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, our Helper, to reveal spiritual truth and to empower us to live uprightly. We need to embrace grace, to walk humbly with God, knowing that a proud attitude will cause us to fall. We need to grow spiritually in God’s Word and in encounters with the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, as we receive His love, developing in a relationship with God, we begin to let down our guard and receive His light. In His light, we begin to grow. As pastors, we are continually feeding people the truth from the Bible, as well as activating others to teach. In addition to Sunday mornings and the outlines with main points and Scriptures, we meet with people at the church, always answering questions or having discussions. Sometimes people text or call or email their questions. We teach small groups and Bible school classes. We do social media posts and videos. We even do some counseling as our schedules permit. We also offer worship nights, prayer groups, and altar ministry so people can experience and learn the move of the Spirit. We also train people in ministry through the church and through outreach. However, what is most important to us is activating people to know God is in reading the Bible for themselves, and we encourage that through Cover to Cover. We including the commentary you are reading now, hoping it helps bring some light to what you are reading. If you are not part of a local church that is feeding you, please get into a church where you can grow. The more you grow, the more light you have, and the more experience you have with the Holy Spirit, the more you will walk in God’s ways.

Daniel 3-4

In these next two chapters, we will see a principle that started in the Garden of Eden and will continue throughout time. It is a principle that life in God that comes from our union, our connection with Him, and that union comes through a position of surrender to His authority. Adam chose to turn away from God in disobedience because he chose to live independently and self-sufficiently of God, and that is pride. He took what God gave him, and then did his own thing with it. The prodigal son did the same thing. Before Christ, we do the same thing. Sin is based on self-sufficiency and control. There are control issues with God, with authority, with people, with business, and with nations. There’s control and self-centered issues in marriages, families, communities, cultures, and schools. There is even control issues among churches, with imperfect people trying to get their way and have their say-so or with leaders who are misusing or making poor choices. Everybody has an opinion, and people who are not yielded to God, even a Christian, resort to conflict, division, disharmony, betrayal, and withdrawal.

God’s way would be for us to all be in His kingdom, yielded under His rule or government. Because of our sinful and human condition, when we as people get together, we build kingdoms, and we fight one another without our nation. We also fight other kingdoms, looking to get our own way. Israel and Judah had control issues. Because of their sin, how appropriate that God allowed them to be under the control of another nation. Let’s remember the mercy of God. Let’s remember how God wants to be known. It doesn’t mean God stops working and revealing Himself, even under captivity.

We see this principle in end time prophecy. Often God deals with kings and kingdoms, promising to raise up His own kingdom on Earth with Jesus as King. God also often mentions a scattering of Jews in prophecy, keeping them from being unified until the time Jesus returns.

In Daniel 3, we read about the pride and religious control of King Nebuchadnezzar in idol worship. In chapter 4, we read about God humbling the pride of Nebuchadnezzar. God’s message to the world and all nations is to look to Him with a humble heart and find life in yielding to Him and His ways. God wants to get our attention and turn back home, individually, as families, as churches, and as nations.

In Daniel 3, Nebuchadnezzar, as king, wanted more than allegiance from his people. He wanted worship. When a political leader demands worship, he or she is asking or demanding followers to serve them as a god or like a god. We see pride. We see control. King Nebuchasnezzar had a statue made of himself, and commanded every person to bow to it.

The image was made of gold. Let me remind you that in his dream that Daniel interpreted, Babylon was the head made of gold. Maybe that’s a coincidence, but maybe Nebuchadnezzar was responding to the dream in pride, knowing he had a great empire. Not only did he demand worship of the idol, but we threatened to burn anyone to death who did not bow.

The three companions of Daniel were in the crowd of people being forced to bow. Hananiah, Misheal, and Azariah (Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego). They faced a conflict where their political leader and their God were in opposition to one another. God was their higher authority, and they knew God had commanded them not to worship idols. On the other hand, this foreign leader that had them as captives was attempting to burn them in a furnace if they didn’t comply. While everyone else was bowing to the ground, the three Hebrew men were standing. They were brought the king, they refused to bow, and the king threw them in the furnace. Before being thrown in, the young Hebrews said God is able to save us, but whether we die or live, we aren’t going to bow to anyone but Him. The king was furious at their refusal to his authority. He ordered the furnace to be made seven times hotter, and even the men fueling the fire died from the flames. The men didn’t just decide to rebel; as they were going to be martyred, they wanted the king and the nation to know their God was the only God and the highest of authority. They made a stand, used their voice, and brought attention to Jehovah, even willing to die for their God.

The men did not burn in the furnace, only the robes that bound them. The king was astonished and ran to his counselors. Nebuchadnezzar saw into the spirit, and saw a fourth man in the fire. We’re not sure if anyone else saw it. Nebuchadnezzar said, “And the fourth man looks like the Son of God!” It could have been an angel, but many consider this a Christophany, an actual appearance of Christ.

God was performing another supernatural act for King Nebuchadnezzar and all of Babylon. The miracle was a blessing to the Hebrew men, but it was so much more. It was an attention getter, a sign that Jehovah was the ultimate authority in the earth, even greater than a king. God wanted these foreign captors to know who He was. He wanted them to worship Him. God is making Himself known.

In chapter 4, the King makes this event known to all people groups, to Babylon and beyond. The world was hearing of Jehovah. The king talked about the first event, the supernatural revelation of his dream and its interpretation through Daniel. However, Nebuchadnezzar still struggled with pride.

Then Nebuchadnezzar tells of another dream, or vision, a dream of a giant tree that reached so high in the sky that everyone in the world could see it. The tree provided food for people and a refuge for animals. It had strength and vitality. Then a heavenly being, a watcher, says to chop the tree down, but to leave the stump and roots. The watcher also says for seven years a man would be live like an animal. The watcher said this event would happen so all living would know the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, giving authority to whomever He chooses. Then the king approaches Daniel again, asking for the interpretation, stating that “the Spirit of the Holy God is in you.”

Daniel says the dream is about Nebuchadnezzar. Because of his pride, the Lord would lower him until he acknowledged the Lord’s authority. For seven years, Nebuchadnezzar would live like an animal. Perhaps he lost his mind or was demonized. After that time, Nebuchadnezzar would come to his senses, humble himself, and God would return Nebuchadnezzar would to rule Babylon.

One year later, Nebuchadnezzar said, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” His words reveal his pride and self-sufficiency. His words reveal his pride. While he was still speaking, a voice fell from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you!” For seven years he lived a lowly life, as an animal. In verse 34, it says that his understanding returned to him. The king was restored to his position, but this time, with a humbled heart. Nebuchadnezzar praises God and honored His authority.

Note his last statement here in verse 37, “And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.” This is an example of how a king over a kingdom of people should be positioned, underneath the authority of God. This is why God chose the Jews, to be an example of a nation with God as their Lord, for others to see and follow. However, the Jews refused to yield to God. Now God is still dealing with the Hebrews, as well as Babylon and other nations, showing Himself as God, welcoming them to know Him.

#covertocoverwithmelanie #covertocover #growchurches #bible #biblecommentary #melaniestone #readthebible #readingthroughthebible #biblereadingplan

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