Daniel, Day 16
Author: Pastor Dan Carroll
Reflect: Daniel has this uncanny inner strength that allows him, in one crisis after another, to not get blown up by his circumstances and the pressures surrounding his life. Most of us would have been so shaken and so filled with drama that we would have lost our way. Rather than reacting to a law meant to wound and trap him, he simply went home and did what was his habit to do, pray. He prayed and he kept himself positioned, time after time, for God to move with power and authority in his circumstances. When we lose our way with drama and fear, we unhinge ourselves from our faith and we often unwittingly remove God from our circumstances.
Prayer sometimes sounds like such an artificial crutch, something to run to when we are weak and overwhelmed, but that is foolish thinking. Prayer builds a foundation of faith that can overcome circumstances beyond our control. It allows us to yield our hearts and fears, along with our strong reactions, to God. It positioned Daniel, rather than his emotions, in the middle of the battle. What made Daniel the amazing man he was wasn’t something huge that none of us could ever achieve. It was simply his willingness to not react first, but to pray first. He didn’t argue about how unjust the decree was and he didn’t run out and try to force a confrontation to justify himself. He prayed and worshiped, believing God could do all of the defending far better than he could.
Unfortunately, the truth for many of us is that it takes a crisis to get us to pray. We tend to run on our own power until our world blows up, then we run to God. Honestly, this is the way some of us learn how important prayer is, by running to God in the crisis. If it takes a crisis to get us on our knees, then let the crisis come. But once we have experienced God rescuing us, there is a far better, a far deeper and more mature way to live in Jesus. That is to make praying and surrendering a daily habit. The reason Daniel prayed during this crisis is clear: “He went home and knelt down as usual,” or as was his habit. Daniel knew that to live in God he needed to be with Him daily, so he took time throughout his day to honor God. This doesn’t need to become a ritual, but it is sure a good habit. Stop at work, at school, during your day and pause to reconnect, to give thanks for a conversation or a person you interacted with. Pause to praise Jesus for leading and guiding you during the day. Remind Him how grateful you are for a living God like Jesus to care for you! Grow deeper in your prayer life and watch your life grow wider and better each day.
Pray: Jesus, thank You for being there for me in the crisis and in the day-to-day stuff. Thank You for reminding me that You can make the day- to-day journey full of life and divine appointments if I will stay connected to You during my day.
Holy Week, Day Five
Title: Sunrise after the Cross
I can almost feel the wonder that the women must have felt when Jesus spoke to them that early morning.
Easter is indeed a time to consider the cross, but for me, even more it brings me to ponder the empty tomb at daybreak. It was then when hope entered the world because our lord and savior beat death and rose again!
Holy Week, Day Four
Title: The Race
Holy Week, Day Three
Title: That Day His Death Gave Me Life!
Holy Week, Day Two
Title: Walking in the Light
Holy Week, Day One
Reflect: Snapchat is an application that sends a video or photo, allows the receiver to view it once or twice and then it is erased from memory. Last week, my daughter-in-law sent me a Snapchat of my son playing with my granddaughter in the park. A few months shy of two, her squeals of delight were her father’s only desire. He chased her back and forth on the swings, delighting in her peals of laughter. My son found such joy in the presence of his daughter and she reveled in his love for her. His whole focus, his heart’s desire, was for her to experience his love and delight . . . My heart swelled.
We pray as you have joined us in studying the life of Daniel you have found God’s word to be active and alive in your hearts.
Sunday, March 25th we celebrate Palm Sunday, a day marking the triumphant entry of our humble king Jesus into Jerusalem, and truly, into each of our lives.
During Holy Week our church family will be taking a pause from studying the life of Daniel and will shift our focus towards meditating on the resurrection of Christ. This week we are sharing a series of eDevotionals focused on the cross.You can expect our daily eDevotionals on the life of Daniel to resume arriving in your inbox on Monday, April 2nd.
We look forward to worshiping alongside you on Easter Weekend. To serve, plan your visit or invite others to join you at our services please visit woleaster.com.
“King Nebuchadnezzar, please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper.” Twelve months later he was taking a walk on the flat roof of the royal palace in Babylon. As he looked out across the city, he said, “Look at this great city of Babylon! By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.”
I would like to say, “We have a word for that kind of thinking: stupid!” But, unfortunately, it is all too real for each of us. We know what is right, but we are blinded by pride. Pride is so deeply fostered in our culture that it just feels “normal” to go there, but pride kills. It destroys lives and destinies. In this case it cost the king his kingdom. Jesus knows how deadly pride is to human hearts so He warned against it over and over, encouraging us to see humility as a blessing that opens rivers of life rather than a curse that puts us at the bottom rung on the ladder of life.
“But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Unfortunately, no matter how much I work at being humble, it is a losing battle. Deep inside me is a well of pride just like the pride that drove the king to boast about his accomplishments, and, try as I may, I cannot defeat that poison. Only the Holy Spirit’s graceful and powerful touch can win that battle. In Galatians 5:17 Paul explains this:
The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.”
There is a battle inside each of us. Our flesh and His Spirit are battling in us. Paul says, “These two forces are constantly fighting each other.” I know that is the case in my life and I am certain you have experienced the same frustrating war, wanting to do what’s right and not doing it, but there is a way out. In verse 16 Paul tells us,
“Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
Walk by the Spirit. This word walk, peripateo, is an interesting little word. It is two words combined, peri and patos. Peri means around and patos means to tread. Simply put, it means to tread around. It has an old Hebrew meaning to it: to tread around in order to take possession of the land. It is what God told Israel to do in Joshua 1:3 “Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you…”
Paul is telling us that in order to defeat pride and win the battle with our flesh we must allow the Holy Spirit to have territory inside us, to “tread around” in us. We must invite the Spirit to freely move within us and to search us and conquer our flesh so we can live out of His power and not our own. It is a daily journey, yielding to the Spirit and allowing Him to empower you, and it is a journey that will bring life and peace deep inside your spirit.
Prayer – Holy Spirit, I need You to walk around inside me and conquer my pride and the desires of my flesh. Today I invite You to have Your way in me. Thank You for the peace and life You impart when I yield to You.
“King Nebuchadnezzar, please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper.”
There is certainly a ton of wisdom in Daniel’s words, “Stop sinning and do what is right.” This isn’t a message we hear often these days, but it is one we read about all over the Bible. Both the Old and New Testament talk at length about “repentance.” John the Baptist spoke of it before Jesus arrived, and then when Jesus taught He spoke of it often. The disciples’ main message in the Book of Acts was, “Repent and turn to the Good News.” The good news was Jesus, His healing life and His restoring death and resurrection.
Today we rarely talk about repentance. The truth is most of us are not even sure what it means. A quick look at this word gives us some insight as to why we don’t talk about repentance much today. The word repentance, or metanoia, is two Greek words put together. Meta, the first part of the word, can mean “after.” The second part of the word, noia, comes from the root word nous, or mind. Literally this word originally meant “the mind afterwards” or, as we say today, an afterthought. That sure is what repentance can quickly become, an afterthought, something we really don’t want to deal with. When we think like that, we get ourselves in trouble. God never asks us to repent unless He is trying to help us, to keep us from hurting ourselves or others around us. So, when repentance becomes an afterthought, we end up in danger.
Over time this word metanoia, like many of the words in our culture, changed meaning. It came to mean “a significant changing of one’s mind.” Now that is something we can all use on a daily basis: a changing of our minds, a breaking of our old thinking, a fresh look at life and relationships. This is what the Holy Spirit does when we invite Him into our journey and take time with Him each day. Romans 12:2 is speaking specifically about this when it says, “…Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The Holy Spirit will actually enter into your heart and mind and encourage adjustments. This happens while we pray, when we read the Word and worship. This is the time He shows up to restore us and redirect us into life-giving purpose. He asks us to “repent” from the things that kill us and move into His purpose for our journey.
That is what the second half of this verse is speaking to, “Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor.” If we actually change our minds, we will also change our living. We will begin to care for others in ways we have never been inclined to before. Daniel suggests to his king that he repent and begin to care for the poor, or be merciful to the poor. Well, that was way out of this king’s thinking. He was known for a lot of things, but showing mercy and caring for the poor were not among them, and that was exactly the point. Daniel knew if the king opened to the heart of God, he would think differently and act differently.
Today, take the time to allow the Holy Spirit to search you and show you where you need an adjustment in your thinking and your living. Invite Him to show you how today can be new, fresh and life-giving.
Prayer – Father, I know I am in serious need of some changing in my thinking but, honestly, I am not even sure where that adjustment needs to take place. I only know that the way I live doesn’t align with Your calling nearly as often as I wish it would. Touch me today, renew my mind, and refresh my thinking and my living.
“I want you all to know about the miraculous signs and wonders the Most High God has performed for me. How great are His signs, how powerful His wonders! His kingdom will last forever, His rule through all generations.”
We serve a most wonderfully powerful God. One who delights in moving with signs and wonders in our midst. God’s “signs and wonders” have always been there to point us in His direction. Miracles, supernatural insight, and healing have always been used as “signs.” A sign points you in a direction; it helps to steer your journey, and God uses signs to do the same.
King Nebuchadnezzar had by this time experienced an assortment of God’s signs and wonders including watching four men walk around in a fiery furnace, having his dreams read and interpreted by Daniel, and the loss and restoration of his kingdom. If we are honest, we have all at one time or another experienced the supernatural touch of God. When I first met Jesus, I would lay on my bed in my bedroom and read a little paraphrased Bible called “Good News For Modern Man.” It was an easy read with no “Thees or Thous,” just simple English, but that wasn’t the key. The sign that led me to Jesus was His Spirit showing up every time I opened that book, breathing life into my dead room. I would literally talk to His presence when I would read asking, “What are you doing here?” “Who are you?” “What do you want with me?” Over and over He would brood over me and a depth of love and care I had never known would rise up inside me. It was quite supernatural and it certainly got my attention and ultimately my surrender. Since then I have been graciously blessed to experience many “signs and wonders” in my journey with Jesus, as I believe many of you have as well.
King Nebuchadnezzar was an old man by the time we reach Daniel 4. As his words show, he was a “wise old man.” He is now not only experiencing the miraculous signs and wonders of God, but he is now declaring them to others. This is what living in Jesus should do to all of us. It should miraculously touch us deep inside and it should humble us as it did Nebuchadnezzar. Then in that humility, praise and adoration should come forth as it does with the king. He wanted to tell others of the greatness of God. This is exactly why God uses signs and wonders: to display His greatness toward us, and in us, so we can declare it to others.
Do you journal? I mean, do you write down the miraculous things God has done for you in your journey? It is the only way you can and will remember how great He really is. We are all very forgetful. Unfortunately it is often, “What have you done for me today, God?” instead of remembering His powerful touch and praising Him for it. Stop today and remember His signs that have brought you into His presence. Thank Him for them and speak out His greatness to others when you have the opportunity. It will enlarge His hand and His presence every day in your journey.
Prayer – Holy Spirit, you have done so many wild and miraculous things, both in me and in those around me. Thank you! Today I praise You and honor Your touch in my life.
…We will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” So they tied them up and threw them into the furnace…So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell into the roaring flames. 24 But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?” “Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied. 25 “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!”
This is a stark picture of my journey and of yours. The world pressures us each day to bow down, conform, and live like the world lives. When we don’t, we feel the heat. Not a fiery furnace, but the heat from others who dislike our unwillingness to bow down to the things they believe make the world turn. The Bible has made it clear Satan wants our worship, and he will continually pressure us to relent and bow down. We should never be surprised when we feel the pressure to conform and bow to him. It has been there since Satan himself fell, and he hungers for us to bow to anyone or anything but Jesus. He hungers for us to worship him.
Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from Me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’”
It takes courage to stand for your convictions and live out of your core values, to remain kind and love others well. It can be done, but not on our own. When His Spirit is working in us and we are surrendering to Him, then kindness and strength merge together and we find the grace to love well and still say no. It is no longer us standing alone hoping for a lifeline to save us from the pressures to conform; no, it is Jesus. It is His strength and grace that moves in us and through us.
“I see four men…and the fourth looks like a god.” Well, that’s because He is God! He is Jesus our king, and He always shows up at the right time even though we often doubt He hears us. Jesus showed up in this fiery furnace and He will show up when the heat is on you! He will never leave us or forsake us. So today live with confidence that when the pressure builds, you don’t need to panic; just pray and press into Him. Jesus will show up and, as He has always done, He will provide all you need.
Prayer – Father, today when I feel the pressure to conform, remind me to never bow down to other gods but to keep my heart and my faith set on You and that You will rescue me.
Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? 15 I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made…if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
“The God whom we serve is able to save us” …this small statement reveals a vast treasure of life and faith. These three men knew their God and His possibility to move with power to rescue and restore them. They knew of His deep love for them and His ability and authority to do the miraculous because He was the God they served, they loved and they honored. When we walk with Jesus, often without knowing it, we build up this huge reserve of faith and trust. This reserve comes from loving Him daily and allowing Him to love us. When we spend time in His Word setting our hearts on His promises, building our house on His life, not our own, we are transformed. It stabilizes us, it brings His peace to bear on our situations, it enthrones Him over all our daily needs and cares. Then when the crisis comes, and it will come, we experience and live out of His possibility, not our own. That is exactly what happened here with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Daniel’s three friends. They didn’t start living for God the day the king was going to throw them into the fire. They began that journey years before, and then when they were tested they knew who they believed.
Their second statement is even more telling: “But even if He doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” “Even if.” They didn’t have a shallow faith that said, “If God doesn’t do what we think He should, we are out.” No, they had a deep, intimate and supernaturally- imparted faith that believed beyond their circumstances. This, friend, is the faith we are all after: The faith that says each day, “My God is able,” but “Even if” it doesn’t turn out to my liking I am still all in. I am not going anywhere because I know whom I have believed and there is nowhere else to go but to Jesus. Nearly every day is a test, a test that is certainly smaller than a fiery furnace but a test nonetheless, a test that will need a faith that says, “Even if.” Open deeply and intimately to Jesus today and He will establish His life in yours so you can pass the test.
Prayer – Father, I want a faith that says, “Even if” I will follow you. Even if I don’t get my way, I am in. Even if things are hard, I am in. Holy Spirit, impart your heart to me; build in me a deep and life-changing faith today.
Daniel answered before the king and said, “As for the mystery about which the king has inquired, neither wise men, conjurers, magicians nor diviners are able to declare it to the king. “However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries…”
A God in heaven who reveals mysteries. This is an astounding statement Daniel makes, one that certainly gives us a glimpse into Daniel’s relationship with the living God. What a crazy and amazing proposition, that the God of the universe would share His thoughts with Daniel, with us! So why don’t we all know Him on these terms? First, Daniel doesn’t take credit for knowledge he knows he received supernaturally. It would have been a huge temptation to do so with King Nebuchadnezzar and all of his power towering over Daniel at that moment, but Daniel knew not to steal God’s glory if he wanted to remain intimate with Him. When we take credit and steal glory from Jesus we lose insight and intimacy. Daniel understood this principle well so he gave God all the glory; then he revealed the mystery God had shown him. This may seem small and insignificant to us today but it is a key to hearing the secrets of God.
Psalm 25:14 tells us, “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him; and He will show them His covenant.”
Daniel understood that intimacy with God opens the door to insights that few receive in this life. Daniel 2:22, “It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things…” Draw near to God and He will draw near to you and reveal His heart in a way you could otherwise never know.
Call to Me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
To be called sons and daughters of God, to have a Father who loves us and wants to share His deepest desires with us should leave us in awe. Paul experienced this and he spoke often of the mysteries or secrets of God, particularly in his letters he wrote to the church in Corinth. He actually explained why some people receive “secrets or mysteries” from God and others do not.
“Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”
In order for God to impart wisdom and the depth of His heart to us, it is required that we be found faithful! Wow, that is amazing! Daniel was faithful and God downloaded secrets to him. Paul was faithful and God downloaded secrets to him. If you and I are faithful, God will download secrets to us. Do you want to know Him more today? Honor Him, seek after Him, don’t fear people, fear and honor God. Fall in love with Him and make Him your priority today and He will reveal the depths of His heart and His secrets to you because He reveals His secrets to His people, as Paul said;
“He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him.”
Prayer – Father, let me be found as Daniel was found, faithful. Holy Spirit, move in me and empower me to walk with integrity putting God first and honoring Him above myself and others, but also please teach me to love well while I honor You first.
Because of this the king became indignant and very furious and gave orders to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. So the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they looked for Daniel and his friends to kill them.
We often think that since God is supreme nothing can happen without His approval. That isn’t what the Bible teaches. In 2 Peter 3:9, Peter said, “The Lord is…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” God doesn’t want people to perish but they are. Jesus said,
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matt. 7:13).
Many people are lost, yet God’s desire is for them all to be saved. Clearly people have a choice in destiny and eternity, just like us when others make decisions that impact us negatively. It sure seems as though Daniel could have surrendered his heart and his faith in this situation, doesn’t it? He had done nothing wrong yet this all-powerful king who had a dream that disturbed him (2:1) and on a whim decreed that all the “wise men” or counselors should be killed, including Daniel and his friends. Instead of panicking or assuming the worst, which I am pretty sure most of us would have done, Daniel went to his house, got his friends and prayed.
Then Daniel went to his house and informed his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, about the matter, so that they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his friends would not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
They turned to God when the king’s decree impacted them wrongly. When they did, they created the possibility for God to rule and reign over their situation, to move personally and intimately with them. They found God’s plans for them to be as Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 29:11;
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Their faith unlocked the door for this wicked king to see the sovereign hand of God in his own circumstances, in his own situation and that opened the door for God to move Daniel and his friends into places of influence and power, to bring life and hope to perishing people.
But what if they wouldn’t have prayed? What if they wouldn’t have believed God was good and moving with power in their circumstances because they were being impacted in such a negative way? We will never know but I am certain of this, you and I are feeling the pressure of others decisions today and what we do with that pressure will determine how much Jesus can move in our situations with power. Stop and pray, believe, don’t give up or give in to despair because of decisions others around you are making. Remember God is still in control.
“Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps” (Psalm 135:6).
Prayer – Father, today I will have opportunities to impact others. I pray Holy Spirit you will empower me and remind me not to give in to unbelief and discouragement but to pray and press through to see You move with power.
Because of this the king became indignant and very furious and gave orders to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. So the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they looked for Daniel and his friends to kill them.
There are times in all of our lives that other people’s decisions impact us, decisions we don’t agree with and wish would go away. But they impact us whether we like it or not, whether we deserve it or not and whether we are prepared for them or not. We often grow weary of others making decisions that impact us. Whether it is a parent, a boss or a politician who decrees their latest law is really for our benefit. It is times like these that we can quickly and easily lose sight of the over-arching hand of our heavenly Father. Is God really good and is He in control? Often, at times like these I can quickly doubt it. I wonder how a good God could let someone who doesn’t know me impact me in such a negative way. Why isn’t He guarding me and protecting me?
The sovereignty of God is an immense and daunting prospect for some of us to even consider. How could He be in charge of every circumstance and every situation going on throughout the earth all at the same time? And how could He actually personally care for individuals who are impacted by the decisions others make that blow them up?
Make no mistake the Bible is clear that God rules over His kingdom. Jesus told us to pray for His Kingdom to come and for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, but why don’t I feel that when other’s decisions impact my journey? Sometimes we lose sight of what God is doing, particularly when it impacts us in a negative way. Rather than believing the best, believing beyond myself, I give into despair and lose faith, but the Bible teaches God is using everything for good when we trust Him.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
God being sovereign doesn’t mean life won’t be tough down here. It doesn’t mean others won’t make decisions that impact my life in a negative way. The dictionary defines “sovereign” as, “1. Paramount; supreme. 2. Having supreme rank or power. 3. Independent: a sovereign state. 4. Excellent.” None of these definitions mean that God controls everything. Cleary, He gives us a choice to participate or not. That is why Jesus said, “Pray for His kingdom to come.” That is exactly what Daniel and his friends did here. Rather than despair and fall into depression surrendering to the kings decree they prayed for God to move in the decree, in the negative decision impacting them and He did.
He will do the same for us today if we will run to Him when life gets hard.
Prayer – Father, remind me today, that when others negatively impact me, not to give into their decision but rather to pray; to believe You can work in me and my destiny in spite of their decision.
“Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,” Daniel said. 13 “At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s food. Then make your decision in light of what you see.” 14 The attendant agreed to Daniel’s suggestion and tested them for ten days.
One of the things that made Daniel an amazing man and leader was his disposition, his kindness under fire. Even when he was being tested he was nice! I am not usually nice when I am being tested, how about you? It is easy to get grumpy and grouchy, sore and mean when we are being tested. Tests can try your patience. Proverbs 17:3 says, “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.”
When we are being tested it is always easiest to focus on getting through the test, the struggle, just getting it over with, but Daniel made the journey count. Even in the fire he was nice. That is often God’s goal with us in tests, not the test itself, and not even getting through it, but how we handle the journey. Do we grow angry and sore? Do we get impatient and edgy? Or do we settle into the hand of God and rest in the test? Daniel did. He trusted God’s best was there for the taking if he would just journey with Him.
Romans 5:3-4 says, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” That is what God is after in the test; character that grows in the midst of suffering which gives birth to perseverance which brings forth hope. Hope is what it takes to live and Daniel could have easily had none in his circumstances. He was a slave in Babylon, a dark, dark place, but Daniel thrived there with the hope he gleaned from the tests he passed when he kept his thoughtfulness intact by not reacting to the test but by responding to the Spirit.
When I am tested it can quickly turn to fear, confusion, and frustration if I don’t stop and pray. If I am not still and if I don’t take the time to quiet my heart I will lose my attitude. Notice Daniel didn’t. He always spoke thoughtfully even asking his overseer to “Please test us.” The please word is very revealing of Daniel’s heart. You see this attitude over and over in Daniel, a kindness that contradicts his circumstances. This is built in a heart that has surrendered to Jesus; built by the power of His Spirit brooding over us and softening us in the test. I know at times it seems impossible but nothing is impossible with God! Remember we are all going to be tested. The test is not what counts, but rather how we respond in the test.
Prayer – Father, today teach me to yield to You in the test. I need to constantly be reminded that You are for me and that You love me even in the test. I pray for Your Word and Your Spirit to speak deeply to me in the tests I face today.
Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,” Daniel said. 13 “At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s food. Then make your decision in light of what you see.” 14 The attendant agreed to Daniel’s suggestion and tested them for ten days.
Tests are never fun but they are certainly challenging. God tests us, Satan tempts us and the world tries us. It is easy to mix these up. Satan and the world care nothing about us. But God, He is crazy about us. So you might ask, “Why would He test us then?” The tests God puts before us are tools which cause us to grow, and healthy things always grow. God never tests us to fail us, but to get us to the next level of growth He has in store for us. Daniel faced as many tests as anyone we see in the Bible but Daniel’s life deeply impacted a culture that was so demonic and dark, so wicked and hurtful that it seemed impossible to move, yet Daniel moved kings and culture, because he passed his tests.
Notice Daniel asked for ten days of testing. That is very important. Ten represents the number of faithfulness in the Bible. Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), ten percent of your money (Malachi 3:10), praying for ten days in the Upper Room waiting for Jesus to move (Acts 1:13-14), and the Book of Revelation talks about enduring 10 days of persecution (Revelation 2:10). Testing and faithfulness go hand and hand.
God will test us. The question is, will we pass? Daniel was tested by his culture, the Babylonian culture that was dark and demonic. We are tested by our culture. It too, is growing darker by the day, and it tests us! It challenges our convictions, as it did Daniel’s and Paul’s after him. Paul wrote in I Thessalonians 2:18, “For we wanted to come to you- certainly I, Paul, did, again and again- but Satan blocked our way.” The word means Satan “cut into us” or cut off our way. He impeded us. Satan loves to do that, but God uses these obstacles to grow us. Daniel quickly figured out if he was to survive and flourish in this culture he would have to pass these tests.
So he listened to them in this matter and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king’s choice food. So the overseer continued to withhold their choice food and the wine they were to drink, and kept giving them vegetables. As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom; Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams.
Notice that after Daniel passed the test God opened new doors for him. God does this for each of us. It is easy to kick and scream and flail when we are being tested. Stop and ask for His Spirit to touch you in the test, to pour out grace to pass the test. He will do it. He is crazy about you and He wants to use your life to impact our culture for His glory. Be still, yield and He will move you through.
Prayer – Father, Your tests are sometimes hard to see and I miss the test and flunk. Please teach me Holy Spirit to be still and listen when life gets hard. Teach me to yield to You Father so I can pass the test.
Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel.
Whenever the king consulted them in any matter requiring wisdom and balanced judgment, he found them ten times more capable than any of the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom.
Daniel had the “favor of God” on his life. Clearly, he was esteemed beyond others. Doors opened for him that remained shut to many others. It would be easy to think he earned this favor but to do so would be to miss the gracious hand of God in his circumstances.
To favor means to give special regard to; to treat with goodwill; to show exceptional kindness to someone. Sometimes, it means to show extra kindness in comparison to the treatment of others or preferential treatment, though Biblical favor is not always used in a comparative way toward others. It sometimes simply means that the one favored is shown kindness and treated with a generosity and goodwill far beyond what would normally be expected. This is generally the favor we receive from Jesus. We are treated much better than we could expect.
God gives those who seek Him favor. This is found all over in the Bible; from Moses with Pharaoh, to Nehemiah and King Artaxerxes, to Paul and King Agrippa in Acts 26. God opens doors for those who serve and seek Him.
“Now the boy Samuel was growing in stature and in favor both with the Lord and with men.”
“And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
God gives favor to His people, yet we often miss His hand extending us favor. We mistakenly believe it is our warm demeanor or wise response that has achieved favor for us, but the truth is, it is His hand and His alone that has favored us. If you stop and look back, I am guessing you will see His hand has favored you. He has helped you when you didn’t deserve help, opened doors that were shut and made a way when there was no way.
Jesus gives us favor at work, favor at home, favor in circumstances and situations we never deserved to succeed in. I know this well as I have experienced the favor of God for many years, not because I deserved it, or earned it, but because He so kindly and graciously extends it to us when we chase after Him. He gives favor in the most unlikely places, when you are out shopping and can’t find what you need and suddenly a person shows up who makes it all work. Favor in appointments that are difficult and painful, and suddenly the right words flow out and healing begins to take place. Favor in employment, when your boss seems to notice your efforts when they never did before. Favor is part of the great journey with Jesus. Today ask for and watch closely for His favor to touch your life and journey.
Prayer – Father, You are amazing! You favor those of us who deserve nothing, not one single thing, yet You extend grace and truth toward us. You bring healing and hope to us and You insert Yourself into our daily situations and circumstances giving us favor. Please give me eyes to see and ears to hear when Your favor moves in my life.
But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.
Daniel made up his mind, literally he resolved or determined to do something. A line had been crossed and he made up his mind he wouldn’t go there. How many times has that happened to each of us? A line is crossed, an issue of kindness or lack thereof, an issue of justice or injustice in a circumstance or situation, an issue of right and wrong, something you know inside is wrong and a line has been crossed but you didn’t say anything? I know I have done this more times than I wish. We all have.
What was it about Daniel, a teenager, that allowed him to stand up when so many times we don’t? The Hebrew words say Daniel set or established his inner self or heart, his inclination or loyalty to not be polluted, desecrated or stained. He was literally guarding his heart.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
When we don’t guard our hearts we lose life and sometimes hope. We compromise what we know is right and settle for far less than we know God wants and later we wonder, what happened? Where did my passion go? My love for God and others is gone, but I have no idea why. I didn’t guard my heart. I allowed things that would pollute and desecrate me to come into my life. I watched a movie I never should have watched. I participated in a conversation I knew wasn’t healthy. I knew it crossed a line, but I quietly allowed it to stain my soul, my spirit and my heart.
How did Daniel succeed where I failed? First, he set a line; he determined what he would and wouldn’t do. He probably saw this test coming and that he would be, at some point, asked to eat the king’s food that had been offered to idols. He pre-decided to not go there. He counted the cost beforehand. What would it cost him to say no? Likely his life, but he decided that to preserve his integrity and his purity before God he wouldn’t cross that line. He feared God more than men. I know when I fail this test it is usually because I feared what the people would think more than what God would think. Not smart, but very human. This is why taking time out every day to sit with Jesus and talk, to read the Word of God and allow convictions to build inside is crucial. It is never wasted time to be alone with the Lord. It is building time. Jesus put it this way in Matthew 7:24;
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
My time alone with Jesus is a time to build my foundation, my convictions, that I will live out of each day. I need to hear His words, so I read my Bible. I need to act on them, so I pray over the things I read through and I am honest about my fears, my weaknesses and my failures. I invite the Holy Spirit to touch me with the grace I need to obey, to build the determination to do what’s right and not what’s safe and comfortable. This is Daniel. Amazing isn’t it for a 15-year-old to have convictions like these that he’s willing to die for? Well he wasn’t alone. His three friends held the same beliefs. Others around you hold the same beliefs. Don’t believe the enemy when he calls you a fool and compares you to those who cross the line daily. He hates the reality that you know what’s Godly and what’s not.
Prayer – Father, it