When Daniel stepped into the palace at King Belshazzar’s summons, he would have been shocked. The aftermath of debauchery and drunkenness mingled with the blasphemy of using instruments from the temple in Jerusalem would have been appalling for Daniel, who was probably now in his eighties or nineties after serving under multiple monarchs in Babylon. And yet, the King and his thousand guests were even more surprised at the message from the Lord on the wall.
Everyone in that room avoided the important and the urgent in an overconfident offense to the one true God. Even though they did not know what the words meant, their consciences told them it could not be good.
If you were walking well with the Lord and a hand appeared and wrote a message from the Lord on the wall, you might get excited and think, “WOW! What does the Lord have to say?” But if you have been walking in secret (or not so secret) sin, and the Lord has a message for you, well…your knees might start knocking like King Belshazzar’s.
It’s been said that God’s word comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable. Comfortable King Belshazzar was disturbed by the sight of the message, and yet tragically, even when he knew what the message meant, Belshazzar did not attempt to change. May his experience be a warning to us. May we live in such a way where we make no feeble attempts to hide anything from the Lord so that when a message from Him comes, we can receive it with gladness and find comfort in His words.
Daniel 5 – “A message…”
Have you ever avoided something important and even looked for ways to escape the responsibility of addressing it—only for that very thing to be brought before you though a message on the radio or in church? It’s as if God wrote that message just for you and what you’re going through.
Depending on your relationship with the Lord, a message from Him can bring comfort or cause panic. For King Belshazzar, the message from the Lord written on the wall of his palace left him shaken. But even after Daniel decoded the meaning of the message, Belshazzar avoided accepting the truth.
Daniel 5 is more than a cautionary tale of a wayward king. It’s history revealed and prophecy fulfilled—and a reminder of the lengths that the Lord goes to in order to deliver His message. The question for us is: will we pay attention?
Watch our study of Daniel 5 as we consider the message for King Belshazzar then and the message for us today.
Dare to be a Daniel
By the time the events in Daniel 4 are recorded, Daniel had served in Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar’s side for many, many years—without compromising his convictions. There’s a lesson for us in that.
It’s so important to determine in your heart ahead of time should you stand before an authority you will disobey in a godly way (like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in Daniel 3). It’s equally important to decide ahead of time to communicate this with gentleness and respect.
We mistakenly think that there are only two options: we can either cave and compromise or rudely rage against authority. But God cares about the heart of the human you stand before as much as He cares about your heart. When you communicate with disrespect, you burn the bridge of the opportunity for a lifetime of ministry.
Daniel shows us there is a way to take a stand and communicate without compromising convictions. It’s entirely possible to respectfully communicate, willing to accept the consequences, within the boundaries of love as the Lord defines it—patient, kind, not easily angered, not rude, and does not seek it’s own.
Dare to be a Daniel. Dare to have a lifetime of ministry in proximity to people who don't love God, who wrestle with God, and who rage against His word WITHOUT burning any bridges or compromising your convictions, faithful to what the word of God says and willing to live with the consequences—knowing that God is able to rescue you.
Daniel 4 – “Dare to be a Daniel.”
God can reach the hardest heart and the most stubborn sinner. King Nebuchadnezzar was a bit of both. Since the beginning of our study in the book of Daniel, we’ve observed that Nebuchadnezzar struggled with the reality of the One true God.
But that changed in Daniel 4. In this chapter, we read Nebuchadnezzar’s own testimony of the breaking that needed to occur in his heart before he finally bowed to the true King of kings and Lord of Lords.
Watch our study of Daniel 4 as we considered Nebuchadnezzar’s testimony and the challenge to be a Daniel—to have a lifetime of ministry in proximity to people who don't love God, who wrestle with God, and who rage against His word WITHOUT burning any bridges or compromising convictions.
In the plain of Dura, outside the city of Babylon, with a giant golden idol before them, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego prepared themselves. They prepared to burn because they would not bow down before an idol.
With gentleness and respect, these young men explained themselves to an insecure and ruthless king (see Daniel 3:16-18). In their response, we glean three important principles to help us prepare should we find ourselves in a position to take a stand like them.
First, they were confident in God’s ability to save them. This did not mean they presumed that God would save them. Whether or not God delivered them from the fiery furnace had no bearing on whether or not they would bow. Their faith went far beyond the fiery furnace that blazed before them.
Second, they were confident in their identity. They knew who they were—Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah—subjects of the One, True God whose kingdom has no end. This identity shaped their desire to honor the Lord with their lives by purposing in their hearts not to defile themselves with the earthly king’s culture or commandments.
Third, they were confident that the cost of obedience was worth taking a stand. Having survived the attempts of indoctrination while living in the Babylonian kingdom and culture, they prepared themselves for a day when a command could come that would cost them their lives. By counting that cost, they prepared themselves and were then ready to take a stand.
Much like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, when you refuse to bow, you will stand out. Are you prepared? Have you considered the cost of obedience? Are you prepared to reject any rationalization that would cause you to compromise your conviction? Remember that God doesn’t always soften the consequences of our choice when we take a stand. But also remember this—He is with you and He will ultimately deliver you, no matter what!
In his first letter, the Apostle Peter encouraged believers to stand strong, even when faith is tested by all kinds of fiery trials. For when tested by fire, faith is found to be genuine.
This is a New Testament spiritual principle that’s illustrated by the Old Testament physical picture we find in Daniel 3. In this chapter, we see the faith of three young men tested quite literally by a fiery trial. And as is often the case, this fiery trial leads to more opportunities to glorify God.
This past Sunday, we observed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in a fiery trial—and how they stood out as they stood up for their faith.
The God of gods, the Lord of kings…
Daniel went from a kid in captivity to the king’s counselor after one act of faith. That act of faith took a great deal of courage—courage that came from Daniel seeking mercies from the God of heaven.
It’s important to remember that if it were not for Daniel’s previous dealings with wisdom, tact, and integrity, he never would have had this opportunity. Even as a youth in captivity, he earned the respect of his captors through his conduct and good character. If Daniel would have compromised by eating the king’s food in chapter 1, he would not have had the opportunity to be in the king’s court in chapter 2.
We should never underestimate the influence of our integrity and the effect our witness has upon a watching world. Whomever you stand before—be it a Babylonian king, your neighbor across the street, or your teacher in the classroom—people are observing not just what you do, but how you do the things God has called you to do.
As we interact in the world God has placed us, may Daniel’s experience remind us to demonstrate God’s character and qualities in our conduct so that those of the world would see Him through us.
Daniel 2:1-49 – “GOD…rules.”
When King Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream, he demanded an interpretation. And when Nebuchadnezzar didn’t get what we wanted…bad things happened.
Daniel and his friends didn’t know the interpretation right away, but they knew the God in heaven who reveals mysteries. They prayed to the Lord—and He answered them.
They knew the God of heaven rules and reigns forever. And unlike King Nebuchadnezzar—whose reign would come to a end—the Lord will establish His kingdom that will never end.
Watch our study of Daniel 2 as we considered the God in heaven who reveals mysteries and whose kingdom will have no end.
In the world, but not of the world
The question we’ll encounter throughout the book of Daniel is this: How can I be lovingly and respectfully faithful and obedient IN this world but not OF this world?
It’s not an easy question to answer, but thankfully we have the example of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah to learn from. These four young men were plucked from their homes in Jerusalem and dropped into Babylon to be enculturated, indoctrinated, and assimilated into the most wicked society in the world at that point in history.
And yet, these four youths had something that shielded them from the influence of Babylon—integrity. Their integrity allowed them to be in the world, but not of the world. It allowed them to keep their identities to serve God behind enemy lines. Because of their courage, convictions, and integrity, these men became brilliant diamonds on the black backdrop of Babylonian culture.
Daniel 1:8 says that, “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…” This mentality and perspective permitted Daniel to live out his days in Babylon without compromising any of his convictions. We have a lot to learn from Daniel as we navigate our our own cultural indoctrination. And a good place to start is by purposing in our hearts to not defile ourselves—to be in the world, but not of the world.
Daniel was in his teens when he was taken from his home in Jerusalem and indoctrinated into the most wicked, most perverse, and most pagan society that the world had ever seen up to that point—Babylon.
And yet, somehow Daniel lived a majority of his life in Babylon without becoming influenced by Babylon. In the midst of all of the perverse wickedness, intentional indoctrination, and deadly social contagion, Daniel survived without compromising any of his convictions.
In our own age of cultural indoctrination, we can learn from Daniel’s experience as we purpose in our own hearts not to defile ourselves. Watch our first study in the book of Daniel as we consider what it means to be in the world, but not of the world.
“Do you believe this?”
On Good Friday, we were confronted with the grim reality that our relationship with God was broken by our sin. And yet…God loves us too much to let it remain broken. So He sent His one and only Son Jesus, who willingly laid down His life for you because of His great love for you.
By laying down His life, Jesus paid the full penalty for your sin on the cross. Scripture tells us that He became sin and received the full wrath of God, who poured out His righteous judgment of sin on His own Son. When the penalty for sin was paid in full, Jesus cried, “It is finished!” on the cross.
We know that the penalty for sin was accepted when Jesus rose from the dead three days later. And now, Jesus lives! He lives to intercede for us at the right hand of God. He lives as our High Priest by the power of an indestructible life. He lives and will always be with us and will never forsake us.
The good news is that whosoever believes this and asks Jesus to be the Lord of their life will be saved from sin and death! At the grave of His good friend Lazarus, Jesus said this to His good friend Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26). And then He asks Martha the same question that He asks you: “Do you believe this?”
Do you believe this? Do you desire for Jesus to be the Lord of your life? Tell Him! Now is the time of God’s favor—now is the day of salvation. Tell Him, “God, I believe that you raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus, You are Lord—please be Lord of my life.” And then, upon the authority of Scripture, you will be eternally saved—you will pass from death to live and that broken relationship with God has now been restored!
Luke 24 – “Life…after death!”
On Resurrection Sunday, we rejoice because we know that Jesus is victorious over sin and death. Not only that, but He has promised to never leave us or forsake us! On this Resurrection Sunday, we celebrated Jesus’ victory by looking at Luke 24 and considered the ways He showed us that He would always with us.
Good Friday Worship Live Stream
YOU are the Excellent Ones!
It is such a privilege to be your pastor. To live life with you. To walk through valleys with you. To see you grow, serve, love, and labor for the Lord Jesus Christ and for your brothers and for your sisters in the Lord.
I want you to know that I see you. I see you loving the Lord. I see you laboring for the Lord. I see you serving each other—often sacrificially. And I am so thankful for you!
I am also so thankful for the atmosphere of the ministry here at Refuge, where we believe it is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace. Where, by God’s grace, we serve Jesus together as co-laborers.
Thank you for cherishing what Jesus has done for you, which prompts you to see each other just as He sees us—greatly loved and fully approved. Thank you for living this out and for giving this to each other.
I am so thankful for how you help me to care for God’s flock in God’s way. You are such good brothers and good sisters to each other. You watch out for each other. You protect each other. You stand up for each other. And for that I am thankful!
YOU truly are the excellent ones, in whom is all MY delight!
“As for the saints who are on the earth ‘They are the excellent ones in whom is all my delight.’” (Psalm 16:3)
In Romans 16, Pastor Paul concludes his letter to the Roman church with some of his co-laborers in Christ in mind.
In Psalm 16, David remarks about co-laborers like these when he writes, “As for the saints who are on the earth ‘They are the excellent ones in whom is all my delight.’” (Psalm 16:3).
In our 50th and final study in Romans, we reviewed the names of these individuals that Paul called out and appreciated the qualities they demonstrated as they served the Lord. Watch our study of Romans 16 as we consider ‘the excellent ones.’
We long to live and walk in love—to have the humility to see others interests as more important than our own. To be a servant and bear the burdens of one another. And to build each other up in this most holy faith in Jesus.
Though we may revert to selfishness time and time again, we are not the only ones who fall into this trap. Scripture records the many struggles and successes of those who have also been changed by Christ as He called them to live out a new life of others-centered service.
So how do we lift ourselves and others out from the selfishness so common to our sinful nature? Through the tools that the Lord has given us—the word and prayer. There is no more powerful combination in ministry than the ministry of the word and prayer!
Do you desire to see others made strong in Jesus? Serve them with the word! Encourage them and build them up with God’s word. Then serve them by praying for them. Bring them constantly before the throne of grace. Battle for them in the Spirit. Ask Jesus to give them His grace, His mercy, His peace, and His strength.
It sounds so simple, but if we would be faithful in using these tools, it would profoundly transform our lives and the lives of those we love.
God has given us two important tools to minister to one another—the word and prayer. There is no more powerful combination for the lives of the ones we love than the ministry of the word and prayer. The Apostle Paul encourages us to wield them wisely as he demonstrates their proper use in Romans 15. Watch our study as we learned what it looks like to serve one another with the word of God and prayer.
Do you remember our study on legalism and license? All of us have certain tendencies and lean certain ways. If we’re not careful, our assets can become liabilities. What we perceive as strength can actually be weakness.
Some of us lean more towards legalism, and some of us lean more towards license. But if you remember, there is a third way—love. God wants to release us from the never-ending back-and-forth tug-o-war between legalism and license by calling us to simply walk in love.
Romans 14:13 says, “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.” The entirety of Romans 14 helps us understand what it means to willingly limit our liberty for the sake of love. We can set aside what we have a right to so that we do not provoke others to stumble or tempt them to fall. Rather than making a list of what’s right and wrong in disputable matters, Paul simply calls us all to love and personal responsibility.
There is an old saying that goes: in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity (or as we would say, love). Think about it—in the essentials, it is important to have unity because there are boundaries to the core components of Christianity. In the non-essentials (the disputable matters), it is important to understand that there is liberty and personal conviction that can vary.
But in everything, there ought to be love. We should receive one another—not to argue or to judge—but to love and to serve. We should be ready to lay down our liberty and our very lives as well—all out of love for one another.
As a believer, your love may be tested more by Christians who disagree with you than by unbelievers who persecute you. So what should you do when your brother or sister in the Lord disagrees with you on non-essentials issues?
Paul addresses this in Romans 14. One could say that this chapter is an equal opportunity offender—if you listen close, you will find yourself somewhere in this chapter. This portion of scripture has answers to a lot of the questions that we ask about others, but the answers may not be what we would expect.
Watch our study of Romans 14 as we consider what it looks like to limit our liberties in love.
“That they may see…”
The emphasis on application and behavior we read about in Romans has nothing to do with scoring points with God or earning our salvation. It’s so that the watching world would see our good works and be prompted to glorify God.
The world is reading our behavior. As representatives and ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are the only thing they are reading about to learn about Him. So if there is no difference between us and the world—if we’re no different in how we act or behave, if there’s no difference in our conduct and behavior—then there is nothing that would prompt them to ask why we are different.
But when we behave differently as a response to who God has made us, the watching world is intrigued. When our identity is in Christ and we live that out, we demonstrate to the world who Jesus is. The world is looking for something real and genuine, something stable and secure, something rooted and grounded in truth, something that looks like genuine love. The only way they will see this is through our behavior as followers of Christ.
So live a life of love so intentionally and fervently that the watching world would read your behavior and be so captivated by it that they would wonder ‘why?’ which would lead them to ask, “why?” Then tell them about Jesus and what He did for you and what He wants to do for them!
Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16). Our motivation for doing good works isn’t to impress others, gain their admiration, or give us more attention. Our hope is that people would see our good deeds and glorify God.
The good works we do and the obedient behavior we aspire to is not an effort to score points with God or to win friends and influence people. Our participation in good works is a part of what God uses to intrigue the watching world—so that they would wonder why we are the way that we are and ultimately see the Lord.
In Romans 8, the Apostle Paul points to many opportunities we have as followers of Jesus to do good works that would draw others to Him. Watch our study of Romans 8:8-14 as we consider how our good deeds can be a segue for others to see the Lord and glorify Him.
“Give to God…what is God’s.”
There are 3 institutions established by God: the family, the church, and the government. Each have specific roles and responsibilities of contributing to a healthy society.
Our role in the church and in the home is not to enforce the law or distribute justice for breaking the law. As citizens of heaven living on earth, our responsibility is to love our neighbor, even and especially if our neighbor is our enemy. We have a role and responsibility to lead others to Jesus through living out the law of sacrificial love.
But rest assured that God sees what our enemies do to us. And He is not mocked. Vengeance belongs to the Lord and He will repay. He uses His institution of human government to distribute vengeance and dispense justice.
Do you wish to see change in human government? Lead those around you to Jesus. He can and will transform the lives of those in society from the inside out. This includes leading wicked men and women who currently serve in positions of authority. Change begins once we are more concerned about their souls than the preservation of our own property or our pursuit of happiness.
Whether they know it or not, those who serve in human government are ministers of God. It is important to treat them with the appropriate amount of respect. Say what you need to say, but do it in such a way that does not cause needless offense. It’s entirely possible to be thoroughly and uncompromisingly truthful while at the same time being kind and loving.
And when human government commands us to do something that is clearly contradictory to the revealed word of God, then we must obey God and disobey man. But we can still do this with gentleness and respect, considering the soul of the servants that we are standing before.
One of the benefits of going through the Bible verse by verse is for us to understand the context of each passage. This helps us avoid the mistake of taking a section of Scripture out of context and make it a pretext for something that God never intended to say.
Romans 13 is a great example of why context is important. This past Sunday, we began our study of the first seven verses of this chapter by carefully considering what the Apostle Paul had written just before and just after these verses so we can accurately understand the text.
Watch our study in Romans 13:1-7 as we considered this passage in context to better understand the specific roles and responsibilities the family, the church, and the government have in a healthy society.
There is so much wisdom in meeting someone right where they are because you genuinely care about them and what they are going through. When you communicate that they are important and that you care about them, you’ll find that you’ll be able to better serve them and bring them closer to leading them to the Lord.
But too often, we are guilty of trying to evangelize someone without getting to know them or demonstrating that we genuinely care about what they are enduring. Many times, we’re waiting for them to stop talking so that we can share our great wisdom with them without actually getting to know them without hearing what is on their heart.
Remember that Jesus loves that person just as much as He loves you—which means that He cares about what that person is going through just as much as He cares about what you are going through. So listen. Actually listen. Don’t just wait until their done talking so that you can share your wisdom. Actively listen and ask thoughtful questions. Draw them out. Communicate to them that you actually care about them. Love them as Jesus loves you.
“…as much as depends on you…”
“Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible as much as depends on you live peaceably with all men.”
It is important to do what is right in the sight of all men. And it is important to live peaceably with all men. But sometimes that is not possible. There are those in your life (maybe even now) where it wouldn’t be wise to do what is right in their sight. There are those in your life (maybe even now) where it is not possible to live peaceably with them, and you wouldn’t be a wise steward of your time to continue to try.
Paul knew that these circumstances would hopefully be rare, but the encouragement is true. There is an exhortation to do as much as depends on you to live peaceably with all people. But there is also a release, for there comes a time where you have to admit that you have done as much as depends on you and it is just not possible—for whatever reason—to live peaceably with that person.
That doesn’t mean that you are released to be mean, or that you retaliate or reciprocate hate. It just means that we are not going to be able to live at peace with all people. It’s a reality of life. Some people are always going to be angry or negative or toxic or vengeful or rude. But that doesn’t mean that you have to be.
Remember, this section of scripture instructs us on how to be a good friend to those who treat us poorly. We are to walk wisely and live kindly. We must not retaliate or reciprocate. We leave that up to the Lord (see Romans 12:19). We just get to love like Jesus loves and simply serve.
From Pastor Dom...
When I first gave my life to Jesus, there were friends in my life who helped me to grow in my understanding of God, through His word, and for those friends
Strengthened by grace is the Bible Teaching ministry of Pastor Dominic Dinger.
©2022 - All rights reserved.