E-Message Bible/Commentary

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." --- Psalm 119:105

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Having a Strong Conviction
But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. (Daniel 1:8)
While in captivity Daniel resolved not to eat the king's food for two obvious reasons: (1) The king's food especially the pork was forbidden by Jewish law; and (2) To accept the king's food and drink would have been the first step toward depending on the king's gifts and favors. To accept gifts from your enemies is a way of being lured into their traps.
Resolve is a strong word that means one is devoted to principles and committed to the corresponding course of action. When Daniel resolved not to defile himself, he was being true to his lifelong determination to do what was right and not to give in to the pressures around him. Too often we compromise our standards just to comply with others. Merely wanting and wishing and hoping to be committed to God is NOT enough. We must RESOLVE to stand up against temptation. Like Daniel, we must RESOLVE to obey God even to the extent of refusing gifts from our enemies.
Daniel's request was granted because of his strong conviction. What is it that you have a strong conviction about? Or are you compromising your standards just to be like those around you?
"If It Be So . . . But If Not . . . "
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. (Daniel 3:17-18 KJV)
Most of us remember the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who were cast into the fiery furnace that was heated seven times hotter. Nebuchadnezzar ordered those three Hebrew boys to be thrown in because they refused to bow down and worship the golden image. The three Hebrew boys were confident that God would save them. Even if it did mean death for them, they would not worship a counterfeit god.
Their trust in God was illustrated when they said, "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king." They also stated, "But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hath set up." In other words, the Hebrew boys believed God would deliver them, but if not, they still would not bow down. If death was an option, they would take it before they would worship idol gods.
Would you be willing to stand up for God even if it means death? Are you willing to go into the fiery furnace for your Christian belief? Can you say like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, "If it be so . . . but if not . . ."?
Having a "But-Even-If" Attitude
If we are thrown into this fiery furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 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. (Daniel 3:18)
There are several lessons we can learn from the three Hebrew boys. They knew God was able to save them and rescue them from the hand of the king one way or another. They were confident God would do what was best for them; therefore, they never prayed to be kept out of the furnace or to be removed from the furnace. Instead, their faith was based on the fact that God was able to save them by His methods; not theirs. However, if God deemed it best for them to die, they were ready. BUT EVEN IF He did not save them, the boys still would not worship the image of gold.
Too often we pray that God will get out of the fiery furnace. That might not be God's plan. God's plan might be to get in the furnace with us to deliver us in a way that we won't even smell like smoke. Have a "But-Even-If" attitude and leave your method of deliverance to God. His method is better than you could imagine because after all . . . God is God!

Allow God Into Your Bad Situation
Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth man looks like a son of the gods. (Daniel 3:25)

Too often we ask God to deliver us out of our mess. Too often we ask God to remove us from a bad marriage. Too often we ask God to take us off a boring job. There is a more rewarding thing to ask for than asking to be delivered out of, off of or from something. Allow God to come into that bad situation with you.

According to the story based on the above scripture, the Hebrew boys never asked God to blow out the fire even though He could have done so. They never asked God to prevent them from going into the fire even though He could have done so. They trusted God, and God showed up with them in the fire.

Instead of asking God to abolish the situation, let's begin to ask God to come into the situation with us. Why is that better?

There are two main reasons we should invite God into our situation.
  1. To allow our faith to be activated and perfected while in a bad place
  2. To learn from the situation so we can help others in similar situations
It is easier to say, "Lord, help me out of this mess." However, it more rewarding to say, "Lord, help me while in this mess." And before long, your mess will become your message.

Also, in the words of my pastor, Rev. Lois Blakey Paige, "What you are going through now is not for now but for what God is going to do through you."  Learn all you can while you are in a bad situation so that you will be in a better position to accept the assignment God is custom designing just for you! At this point, it is all right to say, "Hallelujah."

When God Intervenes
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants!" (Daniel 3:28)
Intervening means to come between two things, two points or two events as an influencing force in order to modify, settle, or change an action. It also means to enter a course of events for the specific purpose of protection. With definitions like these, it is no wonder we pray for God to intervene in our lives.
There is a difference between God ordering your steps and God intervening. When you follow what God has ordered you to do, there will probably be no need for intervention of any kind because God is already there. However, when you are between a rock and a hard place, that's when you need God to come in with His mighty hand and help. "Between" in this instance does not necessarily mean "halfway." In fact, when God intervenes, it is usually just in the nick of time. God allows us to get to a certain point before He intervenes. A good example of God's intervention is when the three Hebrew boys were in the fiery furnace and God intervened with all power and saved them (Daniel 3:13-27). Did God stop them from being thrown in? No, He didn't! Was the furnace heated seven times hotter? Yes, it was! This explains that God does not eliminate the problem; He comes into the problem with us. Surely, he could have blown out that fire with one breath. But, He didn't! Surely, He could have snatched the Hebrews boys out of the furnace. But, He didn't. Instead, He intervened!
God's intervention is seen more powerfully when you are between two positions. In other words, God intervenes when you are between where you are and where He wants you to be.

Frightening Dreams
I had a dream that made me afraid. (Daniel 4:5)

Have you ever had a frightening dream? Some of our dreams do frighten us, but that's not God's intent. Dreams can help us in many ways if only we knew what they meant. Nebuchadnezzar admitted he had a dream that frightened him. So he commanded all the wise men of Babylon to interpret the dream for him. When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners came, Nebuchadnezzar told them his dream, but they could not interpret it. Finally, Daniel came and interpreted the dream for Nebuchadnezzar. (Daniel 4:4-18)

There is a little Nebuchadnezzar in all of us in that we have dreams that frighten us. On the other hand, there is a little Daniel in all of us in that we can learn to interpret our own dreams. There are some symbols that mean just about the same in all dreams. However, the meaning itself varies based on the dreamer's lifestyle, personality, and other circumstances.

You miss out on a lot and end up in a lot of trouble when you do not heed your dreams.
God gives you your dreams for a specific purpose. Learn to identify what He is saying to you when He communicates with you while you sleep.

Don't Stop Praying and Fasting
At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over. (Daniel 10:2-3)

Daniel prayed and fasted for three weeks without any results. He did everything he was supposed to do; yet his prayer was not answered. Who was to blame? Was God deliberately avoiding Daniel? Was God refusing to answer Daniel's request about the great war? Daniel did not know why his prayer was not answered, but he faithfully continued praying and fasting believing he would eventually get results concerning his prayer.

When God's messenger finally arrived with an answer for Daniel, Daniel was told that his prayer was heard and answered the first day he prayed it. God's messenger was resisted twenty-one days by the prince of darkness. In other words, Satan held up the answer to Daniel's prayer. And Satan holds up the answer to some of our prayers. Therefore, we need to do what Daniel did. We need to continue praying and fasting because some of our prayers might be challenged by unseen obstacles. Eventually our praying and fasting will help defeat those evil forces, and we will get a breakthrough.
Space Between Your Prayer and Its Manifestation
Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. (Daniel 10:12-13) 
Have you ever prayed for something and at the end of your prayer you knew without a doubt that your prayer had been answered; yet you saw no manifestation of it? It is true that God sometimes answers prayers while we are still praying, but the manifestation or seeing it come to pass might take much longer.
The time element in the spirit and natural worlds are not synchronized. Something might have taken place already in the spirit, but the natural realization of it might not happen until much later. Sometimes our prayers are hung up in the second heaven by the prince of darkness.
In the above scriptures from Daniel, we see that God heard Daniel's prayer as soon as he prayed it. Satan blocked the manifestation of the prayer for 21 days. The delay was obvious, but Daniel continued praying and fasting. God's messenger, Gabriel, was assisted by Michael, the archangel to make sure the manifestation of the prayer was unblocked.
Answers to our prayers may be hindered by unseen obstacles. Our prayers may be challenged by evil forces. Let's do what Daniel did. Let's continue to pray fervently and to fast earnestly until the manifestations of our prayers are realized. [The Daniel Fast lasting 21 days is based on this].

Empowerment For Those Who Know Their God
Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. (Daniel 11:32)

The above scripture describes two types of people: the wicked and the righteous. Those who are wicked are expected to receive nothing but corruption in the form of flattery. Contrary, those who are righteous and know their God are strong and carry out great exploits.

What are exploits? Before you attempt to carry them out, perhaps you need to be informed what they are. Exploits are notable deeds; especially those that are heroic or brilliant. To do exploits for God is to use your gifts and talents to the greatest possible advantage.

You have two choices: to break God's covenant or to carry out great exploits for Him. In order to do the latter, you must be among those who know their God. If you don't know God, receive His Son as your Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9-10; John 14:6). If you do know God, get to know Him more intimately by offering yourself to Him. (Romans 12:1-2)

The better we know God, the more exploits we can do for God; not in our own strength, but in His.

Dare To Be A Daniel
Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. (Daniel 11:32)
One of the most important teachings of the Bible is that God can be and wants to be known. Daniel knew God and believed wholeheartedly in what God could and would do. Daniel and his three Hebrew friends were in exile in Babylon, but they followed the advice Jeremiah had given them (Jeremiah 29). They did their best while in enemy territory. Like Joseph in Egypt and Esther in Persia, Daniel allowed God to use him while he was far away from home. Don't complain about where you are. God has you there for a purpose. The sooner you start doing what you are there to do, the sooner God will move you to another place, another level, another assignment. You must complete the assignment God put you there to do. Then He will move you when the time and conditions are right.
While the world tries to make you a "conformer," sometimes you have to be a "transformer" like Daniel. Daniel and his friends had a new home in a strange land. They were given new names, new teachings, and were offered a new diet and a new god. Daniel's heart could not be changed even though his physical location had changed.
Dare to be a Daniel. Be a Daniel when you have to stand alone. Be a Daniel and fulfill your purpose where you are. Be a Daniel and do not conform; rather transform the situations. Dare to be a Daniel and never bow down to anyone or anything but the One and Only True Living God. Dare to be a Daniel.

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