Seed of Faith 2/27/21

Seed of Faith – Faith In The Lions Den   By Pastor Dave  
 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” Daniel 6:26-27

Dear Faithful – Fearless – Fruitful Seed Sowers,

I pray that each and everyone of you are safe in the grace and love of Jesus! The days we are living through are difficult. I pray that you find comfort in these SEEDS OF FAITH and in the living, enduring WORD OF GOD. I pray that your faith will increase and your fear will decrease. God be with us as we face this pandemic. Amen.

Over the past few weeks, we have learned about Daniel.  Daniel and his three good friends: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were taken captive from Israel as teenagers and brought to Babylon. Daniel served under four different Kings of Babylon: Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius and Cyrus. By the time we reach this story in chapter 6, Daniel is in his eighties.  He has been serving the kings and interpreting dreams for sixty years.  One thing is noteworthy to me: during all of his time in captivity, Daniel remained faithful to his one, true God.

Back to our story, King Darius now appoints Daniel to be the one of three administrators over his kingdom. The king has plans to set old Daniel over his whole kingdom.

Have you ever thought about this? King Darius plans to set Daniel over his whole kingdom?

I have!  How does someone get to that place in life where the King wants to put you in charge of his kingdom? I don’t know about you, but I believe it was because of Daniel’s faith and faithful service. In our story, we learn that Daniel that is willing to remain true to his faith even when the new order is placed: “All people should not pray to any other god. All people are to only pray to the king, and if this edict is violated, you will be thrown into the lions’ den.” (Put yourself into THIS story, friends.)

What I glean from this story is that Daniel’s coworkers were jealous and envious of Daniel. They know they will not find any corruption in Daniel so a plan is concocted in order for Daniel to fail. After the edict,  Daniel goes home, like he always does, opens his window like he always does, and begins to pray to the God of Jerusalem like he always did. We are told right here in Daniel 6 that three times each day Daniel got down on his knees and prayed to God. Daniel gave thanks to his God. As far as Daniel was concerned, there was no edict for Daniel that could stop him from praying to God.

Even when Daniel learned that the decree had been ordered and published and enacted, he went home to his upstairs room where his windows were opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to God, just as he had done before. Daniel 6:10

I like these words, “just as he had done before.”  If we were really in this story, we would know that we could count on one thing: Daniel would go home three times each day and pray. This wasn’t just a pattern with Daniel, this was a lifestyle.

The outside world may have been changing, but God had not changed, and Daniel was not going to allow his relationship to God to change regardless of the shifting circumstances.

What about you? Is your outside world changing? I think we can learn a lot from this story. Despite our changing outside world, we can not allow our relationship with God to be changed regardless of the circumstances. We can learn from Daniel how to be faithful and true.

Are there shifting circumstances in our world? You bet. It’s been a year since the pandemic started and our world has changed. Our circumstances have changed.  What about you? Has your God changed, too? Or have you remained faithful to God—no mater whether you go to church or worship from home? What would be your response if the government issued the same sort of decree today? “Everyone must bow down to the golden statue.” (We all have a golden statue. We do. We either resist the temptation to bow down and let it control our lives or we bow down. We have much to learn from Daniel today.)

Daniel knew that, no matter what, his God would be with him.  He had heard about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. He knew the stories of deliverance of his people. He knew about their former slavery in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, manna from heaven, the cloud by day and fire at night to guide his ancestors. Daniel knew his history and Daniel knew the truth. His circumstances may have been changing but his God remained the same. “Daniel did what he had always done.” Daniel went home and bowed before the one, true King and, soon after, he was confronted by his enemies:  surrender, stop praying to your God and pray to King Darius alone or else.

So What?
I came across this illustration the other day and thought of Daniel and the Lion’s Den.

Nadin Khoury was thirteen years old, five foot two, and weighed, soaking wet, probably a hundred pounds. His attackers were teenagers, larger than Nadin, and outnumbered him seven to one.

For thirty minutes they hit, kicked, and beat him. He never stood a chance.

Khoury’s mom had recently moved the family to Philadelphia from Minnesota. She had lost her job as a hotel maid and was looking for work. In 2000 she had escaped war-torn Liberia. Nadin Khoury, then, was the new kid in a rough neighborhood with a mom who was an unemployed immigrant — everything a wolf pack of bullies needed to justify an attack.

The hazing began weeks earlier. They picked on him. They called his mother names. They routinely pushed, shoved, and ambushed him. Then came the all-out assault on that January day. They dragged him through the snow, stuffed him into a tree, and suspended him on a seven-foot wrought-iron fence.

Khoury survived the attack and would have likely faced more attacks except for the folly of one of the bullies. He had filmed the pile-on and posted it on YouTube. A passerby saw the violence and chased away the bullies. Police saw it and got involved. The troublemakers landed in jail, and the story reached the papers.

A staffer at the nationwide morning show The View read the account and invited Khoury to appear on the broadcast. He did. As the video of the assault played on the screen behind him, he tried to appear brave, but his lower lip quivered. “Next time maybe it could be somebody smaller than me,” he said.

Unbeknownst to him the producer had invited some other Philadelphians to appear on the show as well. As the YouTube video ended, the curtain opened, and three huge men walked out, members of the Philadelphia Eagles football team.

Khoury, a rabid fan, turned and smiled. One was All-Pro receiver DeSean Jackson. Jackson took a seat on the couch as close to the boy as possible and promised him, “Anytime you need us, I got two linemen right here.”

Khoury’s eyes widened saucer-like as Jackson signed a football jersey and handed it to him. Then, in full view of every bully in America, he gave the boy his cell phone number. He told Khoury to call him if he needed him. From that day forward, Khoury has been a phone call away from his personal bodyguards. Thugs think twice before they harass the kid who has an NFL football player’s number on speed dial.

Pretty good offer. Who wouldn’t want that type of protection?  [i]

(Here is the link to a YouTube video of Nadin and the Philadelphia Eagles

Do you know something? God gives us this very same promise. In fact, the writer of Hebrews quoted them in his epistle:  

“For [God] has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’  So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper: I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?'”  Hebrews 13:5–6 NRSV 

In closing, I want to share a story. When my wife and I had just moved to California in 1999, we had to bring our van in for engine work. Being new in town, we asked around and found the shop. (Rochelle is a city of 10,000 people. When we left, there were two stop lights in town. Upland had 77,000 people and was surrounded by a sea of suburbs. Finding a new mechanic, new doctors, new friends–all intimidating tasks when you’re new in town.) Anyway, we dropped our van. As you may recall, we are that family that names their vehicles. This van was 7 years old, and had over 350,000 miles on it. We got her when the kids were still in school.  We named our van, FAITHFUL AND TRUE BLUE. She was the car we drove through my seminary years, and through our first two church calls. When we went to pick up our van, there was a homeless guy sitting on the curb by the van.  The new California plates read GKG with numbers. Jac, my wife, would always say as we climbed into “faithful and true”, “Let’s go serve the Great Kingdom of God, Dave!” We paid our bill and started to get into our car. Wait, the homeless guy. We talked for a bit.  I asked if he was hungry (he was) and walked to the local burger joint next door. Jac stayed with the van and the homeless guy started chatting with her. He told her, “You know, you guys serve the great kingdom of God? Your van is faithful and true–just like you.” I delivered the meal. We drove away. Jac told me what the guy had said and asked me to go back. We’d been gone 3 minutes and the guy was nowhere to be found. You see, we were missing home. We had been exiled to Southern California! Our nearest family was 2,000 away. Everything was so new in this land of Oz. As we drove away, I told Jac that God had reconfirmed a promise from the bible: “I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU.”

That’s my prayer for you today that somehow, someway you will know that you know that you know that GOD IS WITH YOU.

It’s the theme of our Lenten journey: GOD WITH US. GOD WITH ME.

By the way, God’s cell phone number is JEREMIAH 33:3–put it on speed dial in your heart:

“Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things.”

A hungry, homeless guy in the middle of our desert? Here’s your “SO WHAT?” homework.  It’s simple but not easy:


You see, Daniel was faithful and true. He never stopped praying to God no matter what the circumstances of his life entailed. We can learn a lot from Daniel today.

See you Sunday!

I’m praying for you!

Pastor Dave

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Weekly Seed of Faith 2/20/2021

Seed of Faith – Faithful In The Fire  By Pastor Dave  

“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 3:17-18

Dear Faithful, fearless & fruitful Seed sowers,

“God With Us” is the series that we are working through at The Seed Christian Fellowship of Rancho Cucamongam California! It is my prayer that as we look at the big stories of the Bible we see how God was with all the people and that God is with us, too.  In last week’s Seed of faith we laid a foundation of Daniel 3 and the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace.

In this story you can find at least three different groups of people. The conformer, those who bow down and worship the golden statue.  Then there are the informers, those who are jealous of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego because they will not bow down. This group goes and tells.  And you have the last group, the reformers. The reformers are Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They did not bow down. This is how it is recorded in Daniel 3:12 — “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.”

The convictions, the beliefs and the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego provided their enemy (and  coworkers) with an opportunity to accuse the four men of sedition, disloyalty, subversion and treason. The informers go to work doing what informers do:  they phrase their remarks in such a manner as to work King Nebuchadnezzar into the greatest possible rage and agitation. “Furious with rage” is what we are told.  Nebuchadnezzar brought the three young men before him and probed them for a confession. “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up?” Daniel 3:14

No reply is recorded, but there must have been one. They must have told the king that what he had been told about them was correct.

Nebuchadnezzar offered to give them another chance.

Here in this story lies a problem that confronts every follower of the One True God: when the requirements of serving God come into conflict with the demands of a secular world—to whom do you bow down to?

Are you in this story, yet? Put yourself in Babylon, standing in front of the King. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego do not go to seek more time or to get a professional lawyer’s advice. These young men did not rationalize their options.  They did not try to justify their actions.  They did not go and discuss their decision with others. They did not stop to consider the arguments of others. They simply remained faithful to their one, true God.

What is the king’s reply?  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 3:15

These words written in Daniel 3:16-18 are some of the most memorable verses in the Old Testament.  “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. 18 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

What in the world? Are you with me? Are you right here in this story? You are standing before the pagan King Nebuchadnezzar with your BFF’s. Here’s a great idea to ponder: What gave Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego the conviction and the faith they needed to remain loyal to? Here’s my answer.  I believe that they knew that the God whom they worshiped and served was sovereign.  They knew their Scriptures and they were not going to worship any false idols.  They were willing to die for their faith.  These three were faithful!

When we read the rest of the story, Nebuchadnezzar is furious with rage; he has his soldiers light the fire in the furnace seven times hotter! Then orders the three men — Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego– to be thrown into the fiery furnace.  The furnace is so hot that the soldiers who bound the 3 men together and threw them into the furnace are killed by the intensity and searing heat of the fire. Are you in this story? This is one red, hot fire.

What happens next is miraculous! In the middle of the fiery furnace Nebuchadnezzar sees not three men, but four. He knows he threw three men into the furnace but now—he sees four in furnace.

Who is the fourth man?

Is this the pre-incarnate Christ?  Is this “GOD WITH US”?

Nebuchadnezzar is astonished and calls for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to come out of the fiery furnace.  They come out unharmed, no smell of smoke or fire and not a hair is singed.  ARE YOU STILL WITH ME IN THIS STORY ?

These three were fearless and faithful and because they were fearless and faithful, they were fruitful.

Nebuchadnezzar now expresses a profound truth by saying — “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” Daniel 3:28

This past week I celebrated my 23rd year of ordained ministry. I have served four churches during those 23 years. I have faced elder boards and church kings and queens who would have preferred I had a softer world view of loving Jesus. If only I’d bow just a little bit, I would fit in better with the people and my approval ratings could soar. There was only one problem here for me: I gave up everything in order to follow Jesus. Conform. Inform. Reform. Transform. What would I choose?

What will you choose? Who will you choose when it’s your turn in the fire?

I want to be able to say with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, “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.”

That’s my prayer for each one of us. I want you to be faithful. I want you to know that no matter what fiery furnace you face being thrown into, there’s a fourth man in the fire! His name is Jesus Christ. He is KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS. He’s beaten that fiery furnace. He has also defeated hell, death and the grave.  He rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of GOD ALMIGHTY. And it is Jesus who will help you to become faithful, fearless, and fruitful.

A long time ago, and I mean a long time ago, it was so long ago that it was during the days I had turned my back on Jesus. I was rambunctious. And I became a part of plan to tell a small fib to the police.  Do you hear me? It was innocent enough. I was at home with my wife but my friend had outrun the police for speeding and somehow ended up at my house. If my friend confessed, he would lose his license. I did what any friend would do. I went to the police station and said it was me. I thought they’d give me the ticket and let me go. Nope. They threw the book at me: evading the police, disturbing the peace and finally lying to the police. Let me tell  you something, my wife was furious with me. She went down to bail me out, and the police interrogated her in a separate room and she sang like a bird! You see, Jac told the truth. She wasn’t going to lie for me. She told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Fortunately for me, they let me go.  The next morning at 6 a.m. the phone rang. It was my Nana. Jac answered the phone and Nana said, “Put David on the phone.” Nana loved Jesus. Nana had raised me. I explained what had happened. (Nana had heard the morning police report!) I will never forget what she told me, “David, all you have is your name. Do not bow to this world. Under zero circumstances, do not bow to this world.” She hung up on me. Listen, I didn’t know it at the time but I know it now. Jesus was the fourth man in that fire. I began to live for Christ again and I’ve not ever bowed to any other God. There isn’t a church that can make me retract my love for God. There’s not an elder board that make me go backwards with fear instead of forward in faith. Like Martin Luther, “Here I stand. I can do no other. May God help me.”

Are you in the fire today? Look around. There’s a champion in there with you. The Lord Jesus Christ is a firefighter like no other. It may get hot but not a hair on you will be singed. Keep your eyes on the one, true God.

I’m praying for you!

Pastor Dave

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Romans 16:25-27 Paul’s Final Blessing


Paul’s letter to the Romans is the most closely reasoned and compelling book of the New Testament. Its massive theology, so ably argued in the first eleven chapters, logically proceeds from the statement of the gospel in the opening verses in chapter 1 to the need for the gospel because of man’s sin in chapters 1-3. Next it describes the provision of the righteousness that comes by faith in chapters 3-4. Then our position in Christ is beautifully described in chapter 5. The secret of spiritual victory is mapped out in chapters 6-8. And finally, in chapters 9-11, a vindication of God’s work in history is provided. As Paul concludes his argument, his foundational theology gives way to an appropriately rousing doxology in 11:36 – “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.” There is simply nothing like the first eleven chapters of Romans.

Then what follows is the properly compelling call to practical Christian living in chapters 12-15. In logical succession Paul encourages us to practice our theology by using our gifts to serve one another in love. We are to subject ourselves to the authority over us, living by the law of love in the Church, offering all of life to God. This section also concludes with a doxology: “May the God of peace be with you all. Amen” (15:33). Then, as we saw in the last chapter, Paul gives his greetings to all the saints in Rome and closes with another doxology: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you” (16:20b). These are the magnificent structures of the greatest theological treatise ever written. There is nothing like the book of Romans!

Now comes the end. His friends have chimed in with their greetings, and Paul takes the pen in his own hand and writes the last few lines. What did he write? Another doxology, of course, the longest of all his doxologies and one of the most beautiful Paul has written. Paul’s final praise is a model for all times, a model for our song in the Lord. Essentially there are two broad categories of praise: (1) praise for God’s work (vv. 25-26) and (2) praise for God’s wisdom (v. 27).

Paul begins by praising God for His work in strengthening His children (v. 25a). The thrust here at the end of the great theological foundation of Romans is that spiritually God is able to make us stand strong and steadfast. He props His people up so they will not fall. Perhaps Paul is considering his readers’ life in Rome now and in the future, seeing their struggles. Though he cannot do anything for them, he knows God is able to make them stand, and for this he offers doxology. God can establish us and make us strong and steadfast in any circumstance. When He so chooses, He demonstrates this in the physical realm as well.

As Paul further expresses his thought in verse 25, he tells us how God establishes us: “according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ.” We were established initially through Jesus Christ, and we are maintained continually by Him. The key to standing is making Jesus the center of everything. Moreover, the story of Jesus should be our constant meditation, as it was for Paul. Then we will be able to stand, for it is Jesus who establishes us. If you have been teetering, focus on Jesus, read about Him, think about Him, and make the Gospels your spiritual meat and potatoes, the sustenance of your life.

The second aspect of our being established is given in verse 25b where Paul says, “according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages.” In other words, we are established when and as the ancient mystery is opened to us. How is this so? Part of the answer lies in the word “mystery,” which in the New Testament does not mean mysterious (as the English word suggests) but rather a secret that was once kept dark but is now revealed.

Here in Romans a great and ancient secret has been thrown wide open to believers by the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the mystery of Jesus, which Paul calls the “mystery, which is Christ” in Colossians 1:27. God has given Jesus to us through the virgin birth, through His absolutely perfect earthly life, through His vicarious death for us, through His breaking the bonds of death and ascending to the right hand of the Father. Thus the mystery has been opened to us. We cannot understand everything, for even in eternity the wonder of it will continue to unfold. There follows from this the grand mystery of the Church, which is like marriage. Ephesians 5:32 says, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church.” The marriage relationship illustrates the great mystery of the personal relationship that exists between each believer and Jesus.

The spiritual understanding of the mystery of the Church, the inner secret that was hidden and now is made known, can be more fully apprehended by meditating on the tiny word “in.” Paul uses this word twelve times in the first fifteen verses of Ephesians concerning us and Jesus Christ: “in Christ Jesus” (v. 1), “in Christ” (v. 3), “in him” (v. 4), “in the Beloved” (v. 6), “in him” (v.7), “in Christ” (v. 9), “in him” (v. 10), “in him” (v. 11), “in Christ” (v. 12), “in him” (twice in v. 13), “in the Lord Jesus” (v. 15). This amazing reciprocal truth is the signature of the Christian life: I am in Christ, and He is in me. No other religion knows anything of this. It is our mystery. The mystery is nothing less than a miracle. God’s salvation extends to all races, and those who receive it are “in” Christ, and He is “in” them. Moreover, all Jewish and Gentile believers are brothers and sisters together.

What a mystery, what a miracle, and what a call to praise God! God is able to prop us up. Actually He is able to do even more. He is able to establish us. His way of doing this is Jesus! When Jesus is the subject of our proclamation, our conversation, our meditation, we stand! And as we live and grow in Jesus, the mystery opens wider and wider, and we become more firmly established. The unfolding mystery of God Incarnate assaults our souls and draws us up to glory. Thus we stand strong! The mystery of our union in the Lord Jesus Christ as bride and groom opens wider and wider. This is not hopeful thinking. This is no pious rhetoric. It is true! Jesus is in me and you, and we are in Him. And this mystery that makes us stand is for all the world. Through Christ, believing Jews and Gentiles stand together and will be established for eternity. This is Paul’s doxology!

Paul fittingly ends Romans with praise to God for His wisdom (v. 27). Our God is the only God. There is none but Him. He is incomprehensible. Our God is also the only wise God. In affirming this, we are reminded that whatever God is He is infinitely. Therefore, God is infinite wisdom. Wisdom, among other things, is the ability to devise perfect ends and to achieve those ends by perfect means. This our God does without limit. In His wisdom He made it possible for those who were once bound to earth by their own sinful depravity to be loosed from their sins and to know the throne of God as eternal home. He has made it possible for men who were lower than the angels to rise higher than the angels. He has made it possible for us to become His own sons and daughters. For all this there can only be doxology – “to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.”

Romans 16:25-27 Study Questions:

What main themes from the whole letter, reviewed in verses 25-27, have stayed in your mind and heart the most?

What has changed in your life since studying the letter to the Romans?

Spend time praying through verses 25-27. Praise God for all He has done. Praise God for specific ways in which He has changed people through this study.

What does Scripture seem to indicate about Paul’s activity after he wrote this letter?