This morning in my pre-coffee daze, I neglected to grab my dual leash for my dogs. Instead, I grabbed them each their separate personal leashes and got them ready for their morning walk. I always use the dual leash for walks; if you ever tried to walk two dogs without one, you’d easily figure out why it is nice to have a dual leash. No tangles. No tripping. Smooth sailing with the canines and God.
As I walked to the next block, I realized that I had forgotten the dual leash, but I also realized that the dogs were still walking as if they were using the dual leash. In using the dual leash for years, they developed a habit. They were trained. The dogs knew the path to walk. They knew their limitations. They knew the distances they needed to be located. They had it all memorized. It became a way of life.
In this same way, as we continue to drown ourselves in the Word of God and aim to live it out, we find ourselves not having to think so much on some things. It becomes second nature. Spending time daily in the Word helps us navigate our day better understanding true obedience and better discerning the will of God.
Continue to add more time with God and His Word as you go through the week. Start a YouVersion reading plan. Pick up a daily devotion book. Download the Dwell app. Do whatever works for you to hear and read more of God’s Word. Take small bites. Enjoy big feasts. Remember, God’s Word always produces fruit.
“It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” – Isaiah 55:11 [NLT]
I remember an old pair of scissors I owned. I loved those scissors but as time moved on they did not work like they once did because the blades were dull. When cutting a piece of meat, you want to pick a good knife. You want to be able to cut through the piece swiftly rather than sawing the thing till it looks like a mess. Most people have knife sharpeners for that reason.
Solomon mentioned the extra strength that is needed to cut with something like a dull ax. More energy is needed when a blade is dull. He made it clear –“Sharpen the blade.” He further states that wisdom helps you to succeed. So how do we sharpen our blades? How do we get this wisdom that will help us to succeed?
I try to sharpen my blade daily because each day brings us new challenges, new temptations, new situations. We need to be able to stand firm. We need our blade sharp. Read your Bible. Be intentional about it. In the morning, the first thing I do before my feet hit the floor is read my morning devotional. It is as if to say, “No thank you devil. My day is for God. I’m going to have a God day.” Then I spend my lunch with God and His Word. I sit alone and eat some fruit, and then I turn to the Word. Finally, in the evening before I turn in for the night, I grab my Bible once again. Sharpen your blade so you can stand firm.
“Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.” – Ecclesiastes 10:10 [NLT]
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“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” – Revelation 4:11 [NIV]
Recently, as we were sitting in church awaiting the start of the morning worship service, my daughter was looking at the church bulletin. She saw the names of those who were serving that week listed on the last page and she said, “Mom, isn’t that so cool that your name is there?” Then she circled my name. Although recognition is important, those who serve cannot be given the most recognition—attention should be on Jesus. It is to Him we must always point. I took my pen, crossed out the names on the bulletin and wrote, “Jesus,” in large letters. Then I reminded her that we were there for Him, not for our own glory. That with everything we do, it’s all about Him. It’s all for God’s glory.
Too often we can get caught up with the recognition game. We start to get acknowledged for some great thing we did. It feels good. Our hard work paid off. Our time and dedication have been noticed. People are paying us honor for our achievements. I am not against a pat on the back, an award, a gift card, a name on a paper. What I do see as a problem is when we start to live for our name to be in the spotlight. It is a problem when we aim to get attention, and we do something so as to have eyes on us instead of on Jesus. It is a problem when it becomes all about us.
Today, remind yourself that everything you do is for God’s glory. Is there an area of your life when you are trying to stand out? Are you standing out for yourself or to promote the Gospel? Is there something that God has done for you, but you have taken the credit? Let us give God the glory He alone deserves. No one can take His glory—it is His.
“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. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” – Daniel 3:5-6 [NIV]
King Nebuchadnezzar made this foolish command, a command that basically says “do this or else.” Do this (bow down and worship this image) or else (you are going into the blazing furnace). We all have people who try to tell us that we will do one thing or else we will face the consequences. As a child, we hear this from our parents; however, this continues all through life.
People will try to get you to sway in your faith. People will attempt to pull you away from God. It might not be intentional. It might not seem to be such a bad thing at first. You may not even realize when it is happening. Again and again the Bible tells us to stand firm. There is a reason—there are so many “or elses” given and we find ourselves caving, we find ourselves accepting something we shouldn’t or doing something we shouldn’t because it’s easy, it’s what the crowd is doing, and we don’t want to cause any waves.
Stand firm. Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego stood firm and they weren’t alone in that furnace. You aren’t alone either. Today, if you find yourself being told to bow down to something, remember that you are not alone, even through the “or else.”
“To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.”
– Daniel 1:17 [NIV]
Today’s verse says that God gave Daniel and his friends the knowledge and understanding. Now in this passage, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are all supposed to eat what the king has commanded. It was from the king’s table so one would believe it to be good—fit for a king. However, Daniel “resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine,” and he asked if he could eat his own diet of food (v. 8). The official agreed to let Daniel and his friends eat what they wanted for ten days. After the ten days, they were “healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food” (v. 15). This could cause some people to have problems digesting.
So often we look at Daniel and his friends going against the king’s rules and following a special diet of vegetables and water. We conclude that these vegetables and the water provided the four young men with better nourishment, as the passage states, and that is what we take from this passage. However, we cannot forget that it was God who gave these men the knowledge and understanding. God was and is at the forefront.
There are times in our own lives when we use our God given gifts and resources and find great success. We start to attribute this success to our hard work, our talents, etc., but we need already remember that God gave us everything—God gets the glory.
Today remind yourself of what God has given you and take the time to thank Him.
“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.” – Daniel 3:18 [NIV]
The beginning of this verse sets the tone. It is a phrase that is sometimes hard to chew on for us. Imagine this—even if God doesn’t do what I am hoping and praying He does—even if God doesn’t show up in the same way I expected—even if I have to face hardship and possibly death—I will not back down. I will stand firm. I will continue to serve God with all that I have and with all that I am.
We should possibly read that paragraph over when we are praying for healing. We should read that over when we just lost our job and are about to foreclose on our mortgage. We should read that again when we are given a moment to defend our faith but it comes with consequences.
That “but” is a hard word to face. These men were facing the possibility of a fiery furnace. What if it didn’t end the way it did? What if they were burned alive, three martyrs burnt alive? We take this historical event and think that it will be the same for our lives. There will be a similarity—God will show up. He always does. However, He might not do what we expect. He could stand with us in the furnace to deliver us and we could come out not even smelling like the fire. But, He could stand with us in the furnace and we might not get out as we planned.
Today, I want to challenge you. Your faith in God should rest on His character, not what He does for you. It is hard; however, we need to face the “but” in life. He is faithful. He will not leave you. He has a plan and purpose for your life—a hope and future. But it might not be what you think. Continue to seek His will for your life, being okay with the “but.”
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.” – Daniel 3:17 [NIV]
Could you imagine being the three young men standing before Nebuchadnezzar and this promise of the furnace? They stood before him and declared that God was able. God was able to deliver. God was able to defend them. God was able to save them. God was able.
We each have a furnace before us—it may be a situation at work, problems at home, a family issue, a health ailment, etc.—and we might see the furnace heat get cranked up like these three men did. But we need to remind ourselves that our God is able. God will deliver us.
Don’t cower down when you feel the heat. Allow God to help you rise above. These young men stood tall with the Lord, and take note—they were with the Lord every step of the way. God is with you. He is able. Whatever you may be facing today, you are not doing it alone.
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