Daniel 4:19-27

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Daniel 4:19-27

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                 Today we continue our study of the book of Daniel.  The book is named for the prophet Daniel, who as a young member of the Judean royal family was taken as an exile to Babylon (modern day Iraq), the ruling world power of the day.  In Babylon, Daniel served as a court wise man to King Nebuchadnezzar, who often had troubling dreams and made hot headed decisions based on them.  Daniel rose to prominence among the wise men for his ability to interpret the king’s dreams and advise him with godly counsel.  The king often disregarded Daniel’s advice, only to realize Daniel’s source of wisdom was “God Most High”and shouldn’t be ignored.

Daniel chapter 4 is a perfect example of this, and is told in the voice of King Nebuchadnezzar himself.  This story is either a letter from the king to all of Babylon written in the form of a poem, or a poem about the king written in the form of a letter.  We draw this conclusion because it is written in chiastic “ring” structure, meaning it can be divided into corresponding, related sections (A, B, C , C, B, A).  The chapter begins and ends with Nebuchadnezzar acknowledging God’s sovereignty with hymns of praise (A), gives Nebuchadnezzar’s actions before and after his dream (B), and in the center gives the dream and its interpretation by Daniel (C).

Remember that Nebuchadnezzar is the  most powerful ruler the world has known up until this point in history.  Babylon was an amazing city, filled with beautiful gardens.  In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, a great tree in the center of the gardens grows up to the sky and covers the land, providing shelter for all kinds of wild creatures.  Suddenly, an angel decrees the tree be chopped down and all its inhabitants must scatter.  The stump, however, is ordered to remain in the grass.  It wouldn’t have been too much of a stretch for the king to conclude that the tree represented him or his kingdom, but he was disturbed by the “chopping down” part!

As Daniel reluctantly gives the interpretation of the dream, he points out to the king that he is indeed the tree,  but that he will soon be driven insane and made like one of the beasts of the field until he acknowledges God’s sovereignty.  “Sovereignty” means that God is all powerful and in control.  Sure enough, a year later the king was taking stock of his kingdom and patting himself on the back for his great accomplishments.  As the words of self praise left his lips, a voice from Heaven spoke, and the king because like an ox.  Nebuchadnezzar was the world’s most powerful man, “but there is a God in Heaven”, and the king learned the hard way that God is in control.

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

What accomplishments are you most proud of in life (a special skill, promotion, award, or achievement)?  What role did/does God play in helping you with those accomplishments? 

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

November 23rd – 29th, 2014

Prayer of the Week:  

Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in Your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under His most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Daily Scripture Focus:

Sunday—Psalm 100, Daniel 2:24-35

Monday—Psalm 102:1, Daniel 5:1-12

Tuesday—Psalm 102:2, Daniel 5:13-21

Wednesday—Psalm 102:3, Daniel 5:22-31

Thursday—Psalm 102:4-5, Daniel 6:1-15

Friday— Psalm 102:6-7, Daniel 6:16-28

Saturday—Psalm 102:1-7, Daniel 6:16-28

Prayer List:  Michelle Raglin, Chavorly Collins, Marcus Davis, Collins family, Braxton family, Barnum family * Margie McCann family, Carl Rider, Faye Doyle, Dexter Jackson, Larry Lumm, Jasper Gunter, Allene Gunter, Kima Ramsey, Junelle Sims, Jeannine Hope family, Earl Hudson family * Betty Guthrie, Marlin, Donohoe, Russell family, Daniel Vogel, Shindler family * Delferd Sloan, Larry and Jesse Grossman, Joice Shindler, Smith family

November 16th, 2014

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Daniel 2:24-35

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Daniel 2:24-35

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                 We now move into the time of year when we focus on the section of the Bible known as The Prophets.  A prophet in scripture is someone chosen by God to speak to the people.  The prophet has two jobs—to foretell events that will take place in the future, and to “forthtell” the call to repentance and holy living.  This was normally accomplished by God speaking directly to the prophet through either direct messages or visions, then the prophet proclaiming those messages or visions to the people.  Prophets were active throughout Israel’s history, but the primary focus of the prophetic books cover the decline, fall, and exile of Judah.

This year we will be studying the book of Daniel.  Daniel was a part of the small band of Jerusalem’s “elite” that was carried off after battle to Babylon by the young, new, and powerful king Nebuchadnezzar in 606 BC.   Daniel was active until the third year of the Persion King Cyrus, when he would likely have been about 100 years old.  Therefore, Daniel has a unique perspective of the entire Babylonian Exile.  The first half of Daniel’s book tells stories relating to Daniel and his companions’ time in Babylon.  Daniel soon rises to prominence due to his ability to interpret dreams and visions.  The second half contains the visions of Daniel.

Today’s scripture focus takes place as Daniel is still a young apprentice “wise man” in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court.  The king has had a troubling dream.  Importance was placed on the dreams of kings.  It was believed that the gods spoke to rulers in dreams, giving them instruction and warning.  The full time job of the wise men was to interpret signs, wonders in the skies, and dreams for the king.  Nebuchadnezzar’s dream seemed significant to him, so he wanted an accurate interpretation.  But how could he be sure his wise men were telling him the truth about his dream, and not just something he wanted to hear?  He decided to have his seers not only tell him what his dream meant, but what his dream was!

Since none of the official wise men were able to tell the king his dream, he decided they were all fakes and was going to have them killed.  However, the young Daniel and his friends prayed and were given the dream and its meaning.  Large statues had great meaning in the world of the Bible.  This statue had four parts, representing four great world empires.  A large stone, however, would obliterate the statue and grow to the size of the entire world.  This stone represented the coming Kingdom of God.  The message of the king’s dream speaks to us today—kings and kingdoms may all pass away, “but there is a God in the heavens…”!

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

Do your dreams ever bother you?  Do you think dreams ever have meaning today?  

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

 

November 16th – 22nd, 2014

Prayer of the Week:  

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which You have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Daily Scripture Focus:

Sunday—Psalm 100, Daniel 2:24-35

Monday—Psalm 101:1, Daniel 3:1-16

Tuesday—Psalm 101:2-3, Daniel 3:17-30

Wednesday—Psalm 101:4-5, Daniel 4:1-18

Thursday—Psalm 101;6-7, Daniel 4:19-27

Friday— Psalm 101:8, Daniel 4:28-37

Saturday—Psalm 101, Daniel 4:19-27

Prayer List:  Delferd Sloan, Larry and Jesse Grossman, Joice Shindler * Michelle Raglin, Chavorly Collins, Marcus Davis, Collins family, Braxton family, Barnum family * Margie McCann family, Carl Rider, Faye Doyle, Dexter Jackson, Larry Lumm, Jasper Gunter, Allene Gunter, Kima Ramsey, Junelle Sims, Jeannine Hope family, Earl Hudson family * Betty Guthrie, Marlin, Donohoe, Russell family, Daniel Vogel, Shindler family

November 9th, 2014

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Ecclesiastes 12:1-8

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Ecclesiastes 12:1-8

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                 What does the Bible have to say about aging?  Some of the best scripture we have on growing older is found in Ecclesiastes.  Ecclesiastes is Wisdom literature, and in the world of the Bible wisdom was associated with age.  Elderly people were considered a precious resource for their wisdom.  For instance, when a great famine came, it was helpful to have someone to advise leadership who remembered when the last great famine came.  Also, Ecclesiastes is one of three books traditionally credited to Solomon.  The rabbis liked to say that Songs was written in Solomon’s youth, Proverbs as he was raising his children, and Ecclesiastes when he was old.

Our scripture focus today is the second part of the two part conclusion to Ecclesiastes, which begins in chapter 11:7.  In finishing his thoughts on the meaning of life, the Teacher first summarizes his instructions to the young person—enjoy youth while you have it.  Don’t dwell on the negative aspects of your life, because things will be worse some day.  The enjoyment of youth is a gift from God, and to fail to take pleasure in youth is a sin.  However, while you are enjoying youth, do keep in mind that your actions now will have consequences down the road.  Therefore, don’t enjoy life too much!

Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 is a beautiful though bleak picture of the aging and dying process in poetic form.  Remember that life is short.  Everyone who is fortunate enough to live a long life finds that things that once gave pleasure eventually lose their attraction.  Word pictures are given of the deterioration of the body.  “Before the sun…and stars grow dark” speaks to dimming vision, “grinders cease” speaks to losing teeth, “songs grow faint” speaks to hearing loss.  Finally, the “silver chord” suspending the “golden bowl” (lamp) breaks, and the light goes out.  What’s on the outside breaks, but what is on the inside returns to God forever.

The Teacher concludes his book the way he began it— “all is vanity”.  In our culture today, we do everything imaginable to fight the aging process.  Madison Avenue would have us cut, color, lift, nip, and tuck in an effort to put off the inevitable.  Yet we know that it’s pointless to try to stop growing older.  Instead, as Christians, we should enjoy each stage of life for what it is.  Whatever our body is capable of doing, we should be thankful and active, rather than focusing on our limitations.  While taking good care of our physical bodies is good stewardship, we can also take comfort that as they wear out on the outside, we will soon be trading them for eternal vessels that never grow old.

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

Our culture today often focuses on the negative aspects of growing older.  What are some of the best parts about getting older? 

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

November 9th – 15th, 2014

Prayer of the Week:  

O God, whose blessed Son came into the world that He might destroy the works of the devil and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life: Grant that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves as He is pure; that, when He comes again with power and great glory, we may be made like Him in His eternal and glorious kingdom; where He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Daily Scripture Focus:

Sunday—Psalm 99, Ecclesiastes 12:1-8

Monday—Psalm 100:1, Daniel 1:1-10

Tuesday—Psalm 100:2, Daniel 1:11-21

Wednesday—Psalm 100:3, Daniel 2:1-16

Thursday—Psalm 100:4, Daniel 2:17-35

Friday— Psalm 100:5, Daniel 2:36-49

Saturday—Psalm 100, Daniel 2:24-35

Prayer List:  Betty Guthrie, Marlin Donohoe * Delferd Sloan, Larry and Jesse Grossman, Joice Shindler * Michelle Raglin, Chavorly Collins, Marcus Davis, Collins family, Braxton family, Barnum family * Margie McCann family, Carl Rider, Faye Doyle, Dexter Jackson, Larry Lumm, Jasper Gunter, Allene Gunter, Kima Ramsey, Junelle Sims, Jeannine Hope family

November 2nd, 2014

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Ecclesiastes 9:1-10, 10:10

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Ecclesiastes 9:1-10, 10:10

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                  Every man and woman, regardless of race, religion, status, or standing has one thing in common.  All will face physical death.  But what happens after we die?  This is not a new question.  In the world of the Old Testament (the ancient near east), many people groups believed that life and death were cyclical, just like the seasons of the year or the movement of the heavenly bodies.  In other words, once a person died they were merely reborn in another body.  How a person lived their life determined what kind of body they would have in the next life (bad—animal, good– human, really good—god.)

Ecclesiastes offers a different perspective on death.  You only live one time, then you stay dead forever.  There is no reward or punishment—just a place of “the dead”.  Ecclesiastes is written in the voice of Solomon.  Having had an extremely successful life, wealth beyond measure, favor in the eyes of his subjects and other nations, and a reputation as the wisest man in the world—he is now facing the same fate as the fool, the failure, and the slave.  All alike will face the exact same destiny—death.  Solomon says that in the place of the dead all people “know nothing”.  In other words, there will be no memory of life on earth upon which to reflect.

Throughout Ecclesiastes, the Teacher gives consistent advice in light of life’s bleak outlook—work hard at something you are good at doing, fear God as someone whose ways cannot be understood but who is ultimately in control, and eat, drink, and be merry as often as you can.  This is pretty good advise if the only thing we have is this life.  With this in mind, the Teacher gives principles for making the most out of your work in chapter 10.  These are given in the form of proverbs.  For example, 10:10 uses the illustration of trying to cut with a dull axe rather than taking a few more minutes to sharpen it first to encourage the laborer to work smart, not hard

Today, we live in the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Jesus and His followers taught us that death is not the end, that there is punishment for wickedness after death, but that through faith in Christ we have the hope of eternal reward.   The understanding that what we do in this life affects what happens after we die changes everything!  Suddenly, we discover that life is more that working, playing, and merely fearing God.  We can have a rich, meaningful part in God’s Kingdom both now and when life is over.  While it remains true that all will die and that life on earth is meant to be enjoyed, we live in hope that death is not the end.  Through Christ, passing from this life becomes a new beginning.

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

What do you think happens to us after we die?  Do you spend much time thinking about it?  How does the thought of your own death make you feel? 

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?