And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.
By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving Him by spreading this Good News. Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ.
I was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept a secret from the beginning. God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display His wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was His eternal plan, which He carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.
Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world.
He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature, we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.
But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!).
For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all He has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. God saved you by His grace when you believed.
And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.
“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires” – Hebrews 4: 12 (NLT)
Asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope He has given to those He called His holy people who are His rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe in Him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now He is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made Him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is His body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with Himself.
Beloved in the Lord, For the next several days, we are going to focus on the letter of Paul to the Ephesians because it has such wonderful insights into our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. We’ll not give any comment but rather quote straight from the Bible using versions that will give us the most excellent translation of the portion to present each day.
May the Holy Spirit minister deeply into our hearts, the message He has for us for today. Enjoy!
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to His dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins. He has showered His kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
SCRIPTURE: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. (Daniel 3: 16-18 NIV)
There is no other way. We may be threatened with termination of our employees so be it. We must obey God first because His laws are higher than our laws or any directive our bosses might give us. Now, let us serve our bosses well, and be ten times better (Daniel 1.20) than our peers in the quality of our work product. But also we should resolve to never defile ourselves by disobeying God.
Trust in God’s sovereignty is more important than pleasing our bosses. Holding all that we have including our job, with an open hand is equally important. Let us place our trust in God for our future even when our future is full of threats from our difficult bosses about losing our job or making sure we never find work in our industry again. God is able to make all things work together for our good (Romans 8.28).
SCRIPTURE: “And Nebuchadnezzar said to them, is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” (Daniel 3:14-15 NIV)
Power and control are high values for Nebuchadnezzar. This is illustrated by incorporating Jerusalem into his kingdom, demanding his magicians and counselors tell him his dream, not just the interpretation of it, and now demanding people worship the image he made as a test of loyalty to him and his gods. Bosses who pivot on power and control are just plain difficult people with whom to work. The way to manage yourself in this, if you choose to stay, is to be direct and non-negotiable when needed.
When these people are disobeyed or confronted, they become furious. Just like Nebuchadnezzar, who became so furious that he demanded the fire be made seven times hotter and sacrificed his best warriors to get the men who threw our three friends into the fire. These people use anger as a method of controlling others. Reacting in anger to their anger is not the way to respond. (Proverbs 15.1) says that a soft answer turns away wrath. As Christ-followers, we need to have gentleness and wisdom on our lips, understanding that man’s anger does not produce the righteous life which God desires.
SCRIPTURE: “You have issued a decree, O King, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold. But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon-Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego-who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:10 & 12 NIV)
When the king gave Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego the opportunity to avoid death by worshipping the golden image, they refused because they would not worship any other god other than God Himself. In business, there will be times when essentially, we’ll be asked to worship a god other than God Himself. Our bosses may demand that we have excessive loyalty to them.
We may be asked to put our employer first in all areas of our life. We may be told that our loyalty is required or we will be fired. If or when this happens, we need to have already decided our allegiances. These three men made this plain and apparent right off the bat when they refused the king’s food in Daniel chapter 1. They had resolved to not defile themselves. Their resolution was firmly tested in chapter 3. The time to make non-negotiable decisions about our allegiance to God is now, not when the test of persecution comes. What is non-negotiable for us? What are we willing to lose our job over? What will we die for? These are the questions we need to answer now before the persecution comes.
SCRIPTURE: “Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the King said, Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you. Belteshazzar answered, My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries!” (Daniel 4:19 NIV)
In Daniel 4, King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream that disturbs him greatly. He calls Daniel in for help with the interpretation of the dream, but Daniel realizes it does not bring good news: This is part of a major theme in Daniel – how to live as an exile. Through some of the earlier examples of leadership, you can see that Daniel and his friends refuse to adopt Babylonian ways that go against God. At the same time, they still work for the good of those in Babylon. Daniel cares for the king and wants the best for him, he works for the peace and prosperity of his new home.
It would have been tempting for Daniel to laugh at the king, and to tell the king he is finally getting what he deserves. Instead, he mourns for the king and calls him to repent before he receives his judgment. It doesn’t work immediately, but eventually, after God humbles him, Nebuchadnezzar does repent.
Great servant leaders care about their people and desire the best for them. You may not agree with the politicians in power in your community or nation, but God still calls you to pray for them and honor them. You may not like your co-workers, but God still calls you to work for their benefit and not their harm. You may have difficult neighbors, but you are still called to love our neighbor as yourself.
SCRIPTURE: “Now when Daniel learned that decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened towards Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.” (Daniel 6:10-11 NIV)
Throughout Daniel, we can clearly see the benefits of having spiritual accountability:
1. Daniel and his friends resist unclean food together in Daniel 1.
2. Daniel and his friends pray together for help interpreting the king’s dream in Daniel 2:17-18.
3. Daniel asks the king to appoint Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as administrators over Babylon to support his work in Daniel 2:49
4. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to worship the image of gold together in Daniel 3:16
5. Daniel holds the king accountable and calls him to repent in Daniel 4:27.
6. While it is certainly possible to remain faithful in the face of evil by yourself (see Daniel 6, where Daniel goes to the Lion’s Den alone), it’s much easier when you have friends.
Many Christians today, go to church and have community groups, but these relationships only go so deep. We need a small group of friends who will ask us the hard questions – how is your marriage going? How are you leading with integrity at work? Are you spending time with God? What are the idols in your life?
Daniel and his friends spent the majority of their time with people who did not believe in their God. In fact, the Babylonians frequently mocked their religion and commanded them to go against God. All of us will spend time amongst non-believers. Some will be respectful of your beliefs, and others will not. That is why it is key to have strong relationships with people in your life who believe what you believe and will encourage you to remain faithful and do what is right, even when it hurts.
SCRIPTURE: “When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact:” (Daniel 2:14 NIV)
In Daniel 2, Nebuchadnezzar loses his temper, and he really loses it. He gets so angry with his wise men that he orders all of them to be killed! Fortunately, Daniel intervenes. When he hears about the decree, his response is worth noting: Daniel’s wisdom and tact pay off, he gets the opportunity to go before the king and appease his anger. Before going, he and his friends all pray together and “plead for mercy from the God of heaven.” By the end of their conversation, Nebuchadnezzar is so happy he basically worships Daniel – a big shift from wanting to murder him and all of his friends.
Daniel’s model still applies, even when the stakes are lower. Anytime we face a difficult situation with another person, we should speak with wisdom and tact. Speaking with wisdom and tact starts with allowing God to work in our heart, active listening, compassion and understanding, and a desire to see the best possible outcome.