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Tuesday Thoughts 11-28-17

You know The Season is in full swing when they start advertising “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.  In case you don’t know (and don’t own it already), it will air on ABC in only two days (Thursday at 8 pm)!  It is gratifying to know that this simple telling of the true meaning of Christmas is among the most widely viewed specials of the season, especially in light of our increasingly anti-church culture (you hear Linus in your head right now, don’t you).  Another interesting addition to this season that rests upon the shoulders of the Peanuts gang, is the decidedly non-Christmas character of Nebuchadnezzar.  I’m sure you remember Charlie Brown considering the layers of dust swirling around Pig-Pen (and you thought you had a damaging nickname!), and musing that perhaps some of the dirt particles were walked upon by this strangely named king hundreds of years before.  This is on my mind today because I’m reading the Old Testament book of Daniel, which contains the most vivid account of King Nebuchadnezzar’s rule and life.  He was the king that conquered the disobedient people of God, the Israelites.  He was a great king, and was even called King of Kings (Ezekiel and Daniel both wrote it) before that title found its fullness in Jesus.  But greatness often gets out of control, and good old Nebby became one of the most prideful, taking credit for his success rather than giving God the glory.  In my morning reading, this king had a dream from God about a great big tree that was the center of attention, but lost all its branches, was chopped down, and became just an old, iron-bound stump.  You guessed it, it was a prophecy about Nebuchadnezzar.  And it all came true!  Check out Daniel chapter four for the whole story.  But more than the story itself, is the reason the dream was given.  In the midst of great pride, the consequences were spelled out and then its purpose was spoken: “For this has been decreed by the messengers; it is commanded by the holy ones, so that everyone may know that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world. He gives them to anyone he chooses— even to the lowliest of people.” Daniel 4:17 (NLT).  Do YOU know that the Most High, the Creator of all, our Savior, rules over all the kingdoms of the world?  This dream and everything else we read in the Word of God is, among other things, declaring and proving this truth.  And we sorely need the truth!  If you are trying to “reign” over your own little kingdom, take notice, you aren’t in control at all.  It can, and will come crashing down.  Give up anger, pride, self-centeredness and anything else before you find yourself living like an animal for 7 years (yes: Daniel chapter four).  But it’s the other side of this truth that captured my attention.  There is no kingdom over us that has any real power!  Do you feel you’re a slave in a ruthless kingdom at home on the form if an unloving spouse?  How about at work with a cruel boss, or in the marketplace with low wages and high prices?  Does a ruler of disease, disorder or mayhem shake an angry fist over you?  None of these has any real power!  In a heart-beat, those towering trees of fear can be reduced to firewood!  This dream was given, the Bible was written, Jesus was crucified, buried and rose again to assure us that there is One King who has authority over any other power, and that He will take care of us!  Don’t you want to live with that confidence?  Here’s a good way to start.  Declare the authority of God like Nebuchadnezzar did as he was starting to tell the story of his dream: “How great are his signs, how powerful his wonders! His kingdom will last forever, his rule through all generations.” Daniel 4:3 (NLT).  Old Nebby  could only declare these words after enduring terrible consequences.  But we can avoid the grief by declaring it now, right in the face of any pretend kingdom coming against us!

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