It occurred to me recently that, when one embraces opportunity for new beginnings with God, praise of God is a signal part of it.
Recently, I sat down with my Bible to do some reading before going to bed. It opened up right up to the book of Daniel, and chapter four at verse three gained my attention immediately.
The words were by Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Babylonian Empire. It appears to me that God was very gracious to this pagan king. Despite the actions of Nebuchanezzar to deify himself and declare himself the reason for the Empire’s greatness, God worked dramatically in the man’s life to lead him to not only come to a correct understanding about his circumstances, but also to have a new beginning with God.
The man was clearly excited and grateful for opportunity granted by God. And, just prior his explanation about how God had brought him to that point of a new beginning, Nebuchadnezzar burst out in pointed praise.
First, he declared about God, “How great are his signs!”
As seen specifically in Scripture, signs are open manifestations of God’s will as He makes known His work in human affairs. God’s signs are always in complete and exact harmony with His Word. The Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ was a sign given by the prophet Isaiah, which stands as a supreme example of Scriptural correctness concerning the use of signs.
Second, Nebuchadnezzar stated, “And how mighty are His wonders!”
As it concerns God, a wonder is something that occurs in which one understands it can only be of God. Undoubtedly, when one considers the eternal ramifications, the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ stand out as wonders of God.
However, two specific signs and wonders experienced by Nebuchadnezzar are likewise utilized to move us to the point of new beginning with God as well. Nebuchadnezzar did not take those particular signs and wonders lightly, and neither should we.
One involves the convicting power of God. Nebuchadnezzar was simply amazed at the powerful manner of conviction God worked in his life, although it took seven years before he literally came to his senses.
The convicting power of God involves that internal stirring in our heart and mind making clear where we are wrong. Conviction is an experience which no one should disregard, for it is His evident grace at work to bring us where we need to be with Him. God has a beneficent purpose when He stirs conviction, and certainly brings joy with God when we yield to it.
Another involves the powerful presence of God. Nebuchadnezzar was overwhelmed with this wonder when he had those three Hebrew boys thrown into the furnace. He saw with his own eyes the presence of God in midst of the fire, walking around with, and preserving miraculously that faithful trio.
Here again the wonder of God’s grace becomes evident when we see His presence with us, especially when it is manifested in a timely manner. His presence with us is never by accident, but rather according to His providence at work in our lives.
The heart of God is to bring each person into proper fellowship with Him, not because God is mercenary, but because He knows it is to our benefit. Life is too much of a gift for it to be bound up in worldliness and it accompanying disappointments and frustrations. It is because He loves us that He works through those unique signs and wonders to bring us into His joy and deep rich blessings.
Thus, one cannot help but to be excited with praise when opportunity for a new beginning with Him is seized. Nebuchadnezzar makes it clear how it should be for us.
Consider all this particularly in the experience of starting a new year. According to Scripture, God initiated observance of new years, part of which is designed to help us realize we can experience new starts in fresh fellowship with Him. Consequently, we do not have to live under the same old burdens. We do not have to go on with the guilt of unforgiven and unconfessed sin. New joy may be instilled in our lives, because, sometimes, it is good to start over with God.
The Rev. Ron Branch is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va.