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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Along Donegal Creek
A snowy path along Donegal Creek near our home.
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"Honoring God"

"But you did not honor the God who holds in His hand your life and all your ways" (Daniel 5:23b).

Many ushered in another year with people hosting or attending New Years parties.  Fireworks, festivities, and a lot of fizzle filled the night into the early morning hours.  Thankfully, there were also groups of believers who gathered and prayed in the New Year.  Today I want to pull back the curtains and look in on a carousing party that was held over 2,500 years ago.

Belshazzar was the final king of the Babylonian Empire.  His reign ended with a unique and mysterious bang you might say.  Chapter 5 begins with a drunken party where the proud king is desecrating the holy things of God by bringing out the gold and silver goblets taken from the temple in Jerusalem.  He and his thousand nobles, wives and concubines were drinking wine as they exalted "the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone." They must have thought themselves clever as they foolishly mocked the God of the Universe. But there always comes a time when it seems God says, "Enough is enough"; something our generation would do well to consider.

God sent a message to Belshazzar through the fingers of a human hand writing a short phrase on the wall.  "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin."

Belshazzar didn't initially understand the meaning of the words we can conclude it was the manner which the Lord communicated that greatly distressed and terrified the king. "His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way."

I (Brooksyne) remember my first speech in front of the Elementary class when my knees started knocking together. Then my fears moved from what I was going to say to what the students would see and hear with the involuntary knocking knees!

I wish we had a video to see the king's nobles hurriedly come to his rescue as his legs gave way and he fell to the ground (not a pretty sight for a reigning king who usually sat on a royal throne.)

The king couldn't interpret this mysterious phrase nor could his own "wise men".  But genuinely wise and faithful Daniel was still around and finally he was called in after the king's wife feared for her pale husband's life.  I find it interesting that the party attendees gleefully praised six different gods but found followers of these gods to be powerless in helping the king solve the throbbing mystery. 

As is often the case, when all else fails we call off the games and begin to seek Truth.  The queen eventually sent for "Daniel, whom the king found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems" (5:12). Daniel said he would explain the meaning but he had a message for Belshazzar first.  And what a bold message it is for decadent, God-dishonoring leadership of all ages! 

He ends with the phrase in our daily text, "But you did not honor the God who holds in His hand your life and all your ways." Belshazzar had not honored God and the interpretation of the writing indicated that his time was up.  That very night he was slain.

Let's consider Daniel's stern rebuke to Belshazzar by rephrasing it into a personal question:  "Am I honoring the God who holds in His hand my life and all my ways?"

Now that's a powerful question and one that requires some soul searching.  Today, I want to consider it myself and keep it before me as a purpose driver. I want to ask myself when confronted with daily choices, "Does this honor God?" Honoring God is my heart's desire and I trust that it is yours as well.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:  Father, we live in an age similar to Daniel's where people mock and ridicule the one and only true God of the universe.  So many worship music gods, technology gods, beauty gods, media gods, body building gods, intellectual gods and countless others. They render You powerless, but we who have exchanged a life enslaved to sin for a life that is forgiven and wholly saved know that they have not had a personal encounter with a holy God. Only You can turn beauty into ashes, our weapons into plowshares, our selfishness into selflessness.  Only You can take a meaningless life and establish purpose in our hearts.  Only You can replace the fear in our hearts with an eternal hope.  Because of Your infinite love and care for us I want to honor You in all that I do, for I love You with all my heart.  Amen.

Here is the Bible chapter today's account comes from: Daniel 5

Brooksyne's Note:  About three weeks ago I read a verse that spoke personally to me and I felt I needed to memorize it.  When I choose to memorize I type about 4 copies of the verse and post it in various locations (kitchen window, bathroom mirror, shower wall, car, etc.). That way I can study it when I'm in these locations for longer periods of time.  It really works for me.  This is the verse: "Each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust, like the heathen who do not know God" (I Thessalonians 4:5).

I realize this verse is in the context of Paul writing about sexual immortality, but I believe it has application for so many areas of life's passions.  In fact I believe the verse is a guide for healthy eating, selecting God-honoring music, television, movies, relationships, literature, and so forth.

The additional reason this Scripture has spoken to me for weeks is because of the increasing number of people who call themselves Christians but also uphold causes and lifestyles that are contrary to Scripture.  If we truly become discerning people of God we do have to judge right and wrong; that which honors God and that which does not.  If Daniel 5 were being written to reflect today's society rather than Daniel's it might likely be written this way:
"They praised the gods of money, media, technology, politics, beauty, power, youth, and so forth." (Brooksyne's hypothetical revision)

In an attempt not to confuse I didn't add "and a holy god" to my hypothetical revision, but that would describe many today.  To a growing number the One True God is just one among the other "worthy" gods of this age.

May we not to be so far reaching and inclusive that we go beyond the realm of what God says is holy and honors Him simply to entice others into the kingdom. Jesus made it very clear that the road would be narrow and the majority would not enter.  We cannot follow God and embrace the world just "like the heathen who do not know God"!  This is not a prideful statement, for that would displease God, but it is a statement of uncompromising truth.

Phil Miller 1/5/10
Last night Phil Miller, a friend of Ester's since we moved to Lancaster County in 2001, joined us for dinner. Next week Phil will be starting at Liberty University in Virginia preparing to be an English teacher. Phil  assured me that he intends to remain faithful to the Lord as he pursues his educational goals!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

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(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"This Is My Desire"  Video  Oslo Gospel Choir

"Just As I Am" Video Brian Doerksen (Includes outstanding video background scenes)

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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