Jeffrey A Knepper
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Modern technology is a great asset but only when it is operating. For the last two weeks, our sermon series on Daniel has failed to record thus leaving us with a void in our series of messages. I would like to attempt to bridge that gap a little by recapping the last two weeks in a brief outline.
We looked on the 7th of February at the first verse in Daniel chapter 2. The title of the message is, “The Dream of Dreamers”. You can watch the sermon if you have not yet on our site under the sermon tab. By the end of the sermon we discovered that Nebuchadnezzar was a man who had “everything” more wealth, power, status, control and influence than possibly any other person who ever lived and was worried and fearful about tomorrow. Nebuchadnezzar really had nothing! Everything he had was temporary and he had no hope for tomorrow. How about you? Is your life so full of “everything” that you have no hope for tomorrow? Don’t be a Nebuchadnezzar, you can find the hope in Jesus Christ!
On the 11th of February we continued our series with a look at Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. The title of the message is, “The Dream is Certain, the Interpretation is Sure”. As Daniel breaks down the dream that frightened Nebuchadnezzar he gets very specific with his interpretation as he allows us to see that this dream is the “backbone” to biblical prophecy. This dream covers from Nebuchadnezzar day to the days that are before us and the days that lay ahead. This dream reveals the dramatic events as they unfold leading up to the return of Christ and take us into the Millennial Kingdom. What does this mean for us today? It means the “Dream is certain, the interpretation sure”. It means God’s Word is very clear about the times we live in. It also means that things are going to happen exactly as God says they are going to happen. Just like Nebuchadnezzar had “everything” but had nothing we too need to remember that our hope is not in the “stuff” of this world. We must remember that we are sojourners and pilgrims on this journey, and we are to lay up for ourselves “treasures in heaven” and “set our affections” on things above and not on the earth. We are to live with an expected awareness that Christ is on His way. And “when we see these things begin to come to pass” we are to look up, yes, but it should affect us and do something in us and cause us to live with anticipation/expectation. Paul tells us in Romans 13:11-14 that now is the time to get serious about Jesus Christ, why? Because He is coming! As a believer and follower of Christ how does your walk match up with that fact?
Last week, February 18th we began chapter 3 and looked at the first 18 verses. The title of the message is, “The Hebrew Children”. We looked at Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego! We learn a lot from these Hebrew children, but Chapter 3 is the first and last time we hear of them in the Bible. Our familiarity with them is regarding the fiery furnace and the presence of God with them amid the flames. The scene is 15 to 20 years after Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Nebuchadnezzar sets up a huge image in the plain of Dura. Some 200,000 to 300,000 people were summoned to the site and instructed that when they heard the instruments and music they were to bow down to the image. Well the music began, and several hundred thousand people hit the ground except for 3 Hebrew Children. Nebuchadnezzar finds out about it and summons the children to himself and asks them, “did you do this on purpose?” They very humbly answered him and said, this is not something we have to decide right now, we have already made up our minds that we are not going to bow down and worship any other God other than the true God. The king is furious and orders the children into the furnace. The furnace, at 7X’s hotter than it’s ever been killed the men who got close enough to throw the Hebrew children into it. But the children, Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego go un-touched by fire and flame and as witnessed by the people there, there was a 4th person in the furnace having the appearance of the “Son of God.” Now, these children knew even before they were tossed into the furnace that God was “able” to deliver them out of the flames and out of the Kings' hands. But they had also said some of the most incredible words written in the Bible, “But if He doesn’t” we will not bow down to another God besides the true God. You see Nebuchadnezzar, our God is “able” but if He doesn’t deliver us we will still trust Him and have confidence in the fact that He knows what He is doing. WOW! Can I tell you something! Satan offers us a marketing faith. What I mean by that is, “If you worship me you will get this”. This is exactly what he did to Christ in the wilderness in Matthew 4:8-10. He told Jesus if He bowed down and worshipped him, he (Satan) would give Him the kingdoms of the world. That’s his marketing plan for us too. But in God’s economy, He (God) says, when things don’t make sense and you don’t understand fall back on what you do know. The God we serve is “able” to deliver us. But what is our response going to be “if He chooses not to?”
First, rejoice in the birth of our Savior. We celebrate the birth of the Son of God, the Creator, our Messiah, Jesus The Christ. We rejoice that the King of kings came to earth, was born in a manger, and lived a perfect life. When Jesus was born, the joy of heaven was so great it could not be contained (Luke 2:18-24).
Second, consider His influence in our lives today. Christmas is a time for remembering the Son of God and renewing our desire to take upon us His name. It is a time to reassess our lives and examine our thoughts, feelings, and actions. This is a time of remembrance, of gratitude, and of forgiveness. A time to consider the Atonement of Jesus Christ and its meaning for each of us personally. Let it be a time of renewal and recommitment to live by the Word of God and to obey His commandments. By doing this, we honor Him far more than we ever could with lights, gifts, or parties.
Third, look with expected anticipation of His return. While the Christmas season is typically a time for looking back and celebrating the birth of our Lord, it seems to me that it should also be a time of looking to the future. Let us look forward. Let us prepare for that blessed day when He will come again. Let us be as wise as the saints of old, who watched for His coming earnestly.
I pray that during this Christmas season and always, we will see the purity of the story of the Savior’s birth and display sincere gratitude for His life, teachings, and saving sacrifice for us. May this gratitude cause in us a desire to renew our minds and to follow Him. May it also lead us to draw closer to our family, our church, and our neighbors. And may we look steadfastly forward to that blessed day when the resurrected Christ will walk the earth again as our Lord, our King, and our blessed Redeemer.
In 1 Peter 5:8 we are reminded to, “Be sober, be vigilant because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”. When Satan comes at us he doesn’t say, “hey, I am the devil; let’s ruin your life”.