A Journey Of Life Long Learning

Commit yourself to instruction; listen carefully to words of knowledge.”Proverbs 23:12

Your journey of lifelong learning starts with a choice. It’s a choice only you can make. It’s an incredibly important decision that’ll impact your entire life.

The Bible says, “Commit yourself to instruction; listen carefully to words of knowledge” (Proverbs 23:12).

I made this commitment to keep learning when I was 21 years old. I began saying that I would learn as much as I could. For many years I read at least a book a day. Books open the door to every subject imaginable!

Your education doesn’t stop when you graduate. I’ve actually heard people say, “I’m glad I’ve finished my education so now I can start my career.” Tell that one to God, and he’ll laugh. God has so much more he wants to teach you. Your education should never end.

Learning isn’t just a stage of life. It is your life! God wants you to learn something new every day. So don’t stop—ever.

Start working on learning a new skill this year. God wants you to grow. You should be and can be different and better a year from now than you are today.

It’s in your best interest to do so. Lifelong learning will make you a better leader, a better parent, a better spouse, and a better friend. It’ll make you more effective in your job. It brings both success and profit.

The Bible says, “If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success” (Ecclesiastes 10:10).

If you’ve got an ax with a dull blade and you’re chopping wood, it’ll take a lot more energy to do the job. If your ax is sharp (which represents skill in this verse), then it doesn’t take as much effort.

The Bible is saying to work smarter, not necessarily harder. You’re never wasting time when you’re sharpening your ax.

Successful People Help The Poor

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:8-9

If you want to live a successful life, the Bible offers some countercultural instruction: Serve the poor!

How can serving the poor help us be successful?

The Bible gives us numerous reasons why this is so, but here are just a few of them:

It’ll make you happy. “If you want to be happy, be kind to the poor; it is a sin to despise anyone” (Proverbs 14:21).

You’ll honor God. “Whoever mistreats the poor insults their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God”(Proverbs 14:31).

It’ll make you a better leader. “Leadership gains authority and respect when the voiceless poor are treated fairly” (Proverbs 29:14).

Proverbs 31:8-9: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy”.

That’s what successful people do. They stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

Humility Is A Choice

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.” 1 Peter 5:6

When you’re successful, it’s much easier to fall hard than it is to maintain your success. We tend to get proud and forget about God, and success crumbles when we do that.

If you’ve found yourself in that situation, the first step to take is absolutely critical.

The Bible says, “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you” (Revelation 2:5).

If you’re getting proud, you must repent. That means you change your mind. You go from thinking one way about your life to thinking another way.

Why repent? Because humility is a choice. We’re never told in Scripture to pray for God to make us humble. It’s something you choose for yourself.

The Bible says, “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor” (1 Peter 5:6 NLT).

Here’s the difference between pride and humility: Pride is when you accept credit for things that God and other people did through you and for you. Humility doesn’t mean thinking of yourself less. It means thinking of others and God more.

If you have experienced some success and are beginning to get prideful, then repent—today! Change your perspective about who you are and where your success comes from.

The Bible says, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12).

Give God The Glory So People Will Look To Him

There are no wise men, enchanters, magicians, or fortune-tellers who can reveal the king’s secret. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and he has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the future. Now I will tell you your dream and the visions you saw as you lay on your bed.” Daniel 2:27-28

The stakes were high! But Daniel followed a terrific process that can help us, too: Don’t panic, and then get the facts. Ask for more time. Gather prayer partners. Ask God for supernatural help. Worship God. And, use what you’ve learned to save others.

We also see that when God showed up, Daniel used the opportunity to point others to God.

The Bible says Daniel told the king, “There are no wise men, enchanters, magicians, or fortune-tellers who can reveal the king’s secret. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and he has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the future. Now I will tell you your dream and the visions you saw as you lay on your bed” (Daniel 2:27-28).

Daniel didn’t take credit for the amazing answer to the king’s dream. He knew God had given him the answer. So he was honest about that.

I don’t know about you, but if I were a 17-year-old boy and I did something to make the king happy, I’d be tempted to take a bit of the credit. Daniel did the praying. He did the listening. He did the obeying.

Couldn’t he have taken some credit? He could have, but he didn’t. Instead he pointed people to God.

Do that, and God will bless you. God will do great things through a person who doesn’t care who gets the credit.

The Bible says the pagan king told Daniel, “Truly, your God is the greatest of gods, the Lord over kings, a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this secret” (Daniel 2:47).

How about that? A pagan leader acknowledged the true Creator of the universe.

When you spend your life pointing people to God, miracles happen.

Helping Others With What God Taught You

Then Daniel went in to see Arioch, whom the king had ordered to execute the wise men of Babylon. Daniel said to him, ‘Don’t kill the wise men. Take me to the king, and I will tell him the meaning of his dream.’” Daniel 2:24

When you’re faced with an impossibly big request, it’s easy to just give up. You figure that your boss should just find someone else. You guess that your spouse just doesn’t get you. You suspect your teacher isn’t paying attention to how many assignments he’s given you.

But what if God has more in mind? What if the Lord put you in the situation because he wants you to help someone else?

You see this in the story of Daniel that we’ve been looking at over the last few days. We’ve seen Daniel provide a great pattern for us to follow when we’ve been given an impossible task:

  1. Don’t panic, and then get the facts.
  2. Ask for more time.
  3. Gather prayer partners.
  4. Ask God for supernatural help.
  5. Worship God.

Then, Daniel used what the Lord had shown him to save others. God saved Daniel from the impossible task, but he didn’t just do it for Daniel’s own good. He also wanted Daniel to help others.

The Bible says, “Then Daniel went in to see Arioch, whom the king had ordered to execute the wise men of Babylon. Daniel said to him, ‘Don’t kill the wise men. Take me to the king, and I will tell him the meaning of his dream’” (Daniel 2:24).

God gave Daniel the answer to the king’s dream, but Daniel wouldn’t tell the king without ensuring the safety of the wise men—the Babylonian wise men!

God doesn’t want to just save you. He wants to save everyone. He wants to save your family and friends. He even wants to save your competitors and enemies. God cares about everyone.

And so should we.

That’s why you need to continue reaching out to people with the Good News about Jesus. God wants everyone to know him and his purpose for their lives.

That’s your witness. That’s your mission in the world.

Worship God No Matter What

That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven.” Daniel 2:19

Most of us don’t really know what to do when we’re confronted by an impossible situation. Did you know that a teenage boy from thousands of years ago can help?

Over the past few devotionals, we’ve learned some incredible principles from how Daniel dealt with an impossible request by the most powerful king of his time period. So far we’ve seen Daniel model these four actions:

  1. Don’t panic, and then get all the facts.
  2. Ask for more time.
  3. Gather prayer partners.
  4. Ask God for supernatural help.

The next thing we learn from Daniel is to worship God. 

It is important to understand that worship is much more than just music. There are thousands of ways to worship. Any time you turn your attention to God, that’s worship. When you express your love to God, that’s worship. You don’t have to be in church to worship.

When you worship God, you move your focus off of your problem and onto God.

The Bible says, “That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven” (Daniel 2:19).

The passage shows you how to worship God in the midst of a crisis. Specifically, Daniel did three things: He praised God for who he is (v. 20), honored God for what he does (v. 21-22), and thanked God for his help (v. 23).

That’s worship. Do that, and you’ll move the focus off of you and your problems and put it on God.

And he’s always where our focus should be.

Recognize Your Vulnerability

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13)

Some Christians see a fellow believer fall into sin but fail to acknowledge that they, too, could stumble. That’s dangerous. Satan has them right where he wants them: deceived by a false sense of confidence. Three enemies are constantly at work trying to bring us down: the Devil, his world system, and our own treacherous flesh.

Even though believers have a righteous standing before God, we must each, like Paul, acknowledge an internal problem: “sin which dwells in me” (Rom. 7:20). Satan takes full advantage of this weakness, luring us with fleshly and worldly temptations. He stokes our pride so we’ll be blinded to our own vulnerability to stumbling.

Christians need to be continually on guard. Since ignorance–of the nature of sin, the strategies of the Enemy, and our own areas of weakness–sets us up for failure, we cannot afford to be careless in our thinking. Anytime you find yourself excusing, redefining, or rationalizing sin, you’ve lost your sensitivity to the Lord. God’s Word must always fill our minds and direct our steps.

If you’ve drifted from the Lord, turn back to Him by acknowledging your sin and accepting full responsibility for it. Repentance simply means changing your mind and going in a different direction–toward God instead of away from Him.

The next step is harder. Respond with gratitude for the Lord’s chastisement. Every time believers fall into sin, God lovingly works to bring them back into a fellowship with Him. His discipline may be painful, but it’s always good because it brings us to our senses and reconnects us with our Father.

Make The Right Decisions, Not Just Fast Ones

Daniel went at once to see the king and requested more time to tell the king what the dream meant.” Daniel 2:16

When you’re asked to do something that’s impossible, you start by refusing to panic and by getting all the facts. Then, you ask for more time.

Why? Because your biggest temptation in the midst of crisis is to be impulsive. You’re typically not thinking rationally. You’re thinking emotionally. You want to make a quick decision.

But it’s more important to make the right decision than a fast decision.

A wrong decision is wrong, no matter how quickly you make it. So step back, take a deep breath, calm down, and talk to God.

Daniel did this when the king asked him to interpret a dream (after the king ordered the killing of the first few people who tried): “Daniel went at once to see the king and requested more time to tell the king what the dream meant” (Daniel 2:16).

He gives us a great model for dealing with a high-pressure situation by asking for more time and then talking to God about it.

You’re more likely to make a better decision when you don’t rush to make a quick one. Take your time.

Focus On The Future To Get Through Temporary Trouble

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12

When we follow Jesus, we will face trouble. It’s guaranteed! You’ll be harassed, persecuted, rejected, and ridiculed because of your faith.

But that’s not the end of the story. The Bible says that Jesus endured the torture of the cross “for the joy set before him” (Hebrews 12:2).

You, too, must focus on your future reward if you want to get through your temporary troubles.

Imagine the scene at the end of history. Everyone who has ever lived will one day kneel before Jesus Christ. Everyone will say, “Jesus is Lord.” Some will praise him because they’ve done so all their lives. Others will praise him in judgment to themselves because they’ve denied him all their lives.

Every professor who ridiculed you because of your faith and every friend who tried to convince you to abandon your faith will one day praise Jesus. Every entertainer who made a mockery of God’s name and every politician who opposed his ways will praise him (Philippians 2:9-11).

Everyone will one day bow before Jesus.

At that time God will also reward you for staying true to him despite the harassment and criticism you faced for your faith.

Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).

Whenever you face persecution, you’re in the same category as Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Moses.

Just like those great prophets of old, you’ll one day experience an eternity with God, full of unimaginable joy. The harassment, persecution, rejection, and ridicule you face now for Jesus’ sake won’t compare to the reward of eternity with God.

Put your hope in this truth so that when life gets tough, you can endure.

God Brings New Life Out Of The Fire

“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

How you handle pain is a great witness to the world. When you trust God in spite of suffering, you’ll point unbelievers to him.

Frankly, you and I aren’t much of a witness when life is good. Anyone can serve God during those times. But tough times are a different story.

Remember the story of Daniel’s friends being tossed into the fire? They trusted God, and he rescued them in a miraculous manner.

These guys impressed the king with their faith. And the king was the most powerful emperor of that time.

The king said, “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).

King Nebuchadnezzar recognized that these guys were willing to defy his order and risk death because they trusted God.

What are you willing to die for?

If you don’t know what you’re willing to die for, you’ll never truly live. You’ll only exist.

The same is true with us.

Sometimes God brings new life to others because they see us trust him through the fire

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