Verse of the Day

Matthew 16:25
“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

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Daniel, A Story of Character

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DANIEL-A STORY OF CHARACTER

Earlier this week, I was drawn to the book of Daniel. 12 chapters of excited and faith building stories, including many references to the age in which we are living. As a child, I enjoyed hearing Mom read of Daniel's escape from the lion's den, the deliverance of his 3 Hebrew friends from the fiery furnace, and who could forget the handwriting on the wall in Daniel 5? Daniel was just a teen when his story begins and although he was thrown into dire circumstances at this early age, he proved faithful to His God and kept his faith in the living God alive and active throughout his life. We will refer to several passages, but our main topic is centered in the first chapter. 
 
Some skeptics say that the book of Daniel was written by some one else and just given Daniel's name. But since we deal in biblical facts, we believe Daniel 12:4 and Matthew 24:15 is proof that Daniel is the author. Telling his story for us, leaving us an example of total commitment to God was a great favor for the children of God. You see, Daniel had a non-negotiable faith; he had a resolve that few older folk have, much less a teenage kid who was thrown into a life that was totally foreign to him in location and lifestyle. 
 
Daniel was of royal stock, meaning that his family was high in rank in the city of Jerusalem and Daniel was probably the son of a priest or certainly in line for the priesthood when the war started. Daniel's story is proof to us, and a warning, that life can be quiet and serene one minute and the next, it can be helter-skelter. We have no promise of tomorrow and today is the day to become versed in scripture, prayed up and packed up, for at any moment, things could change. If we were to interview the victims of the floods in LA and WV, I am sure most of them would say, "we never was prepared for such life-changing events". It pays to know God and His Word. You see, Daniel not only knew the words of the prophets concerning his nation, he believed them and he understood them (Daniel 9:2). His understanding of the word caused him to fast, pray and supplicate for his nation and the restoration of his people (9:2-19). 
 
Nebuchadzzar forced Daniel and several hundred other Jewish young men to travel 1500 miles from their homeland to begin a life of service for the Babylonian government. As a POW, Daniel had little or no say-so over his living quarters, his lifestyle or his diet. He was in a seemingly impossible situation and one would gather that all he could do was yield, submit and obey if he wanted to keep his life. Let me say here that Daniel was used of God in dreams, visions and prophecies during his captivity (1:17). But none of the things that happened in the 11 chapters following chapter 1, would have ever occurred, if Daniel had not made the decisions he made in Daniel 1:8. Let's read that verse, "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself". This one verse sums up the rest of Daniel's life. It was this judgment call that Daniel made that set the stage for the path in which God would lead him over the next 70 plus years. 
 
Now, we know that Daniel was in no position to be asking favors from anyone. But see, Daniel was no ordinary young man. He had integrity; he had faith and he had guts. He would rather die right away than compromise his beliefs and the teachings of his forefathers. And God was in the entire situation. You see, when we decide to follow Jesus, he makes us a promise that He will be with us in the crisis. They took Daniel to Babylon and Daniel took his God, his faith and his committed resolve with him. The king changed his name immediately, and the names of his 3 friends, but Daniel talked with them and they all agreed to follow his leadership. You see, your decision to stand for truth not only affects you, it affects the lives of all those around you; your children, your co-workers, your acquaintances and anyone who knows you. 
 
When the first meal was served, Daniel knew he had to make a right then. 1:9, we know God was present and he had brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. So Daniel talked to his steward, Melzar, and requested pulse (mashed vegetables) to eat and only water to drink. The prince of the eunuchs that Daniel was risking his life by this request and he told Daniel that if he granted his wish, the king would kill him because Daniel and his 3 friends would lose weight and suffer malnutrition. So Daniel makes an offer to him and put forth a challenge to him. He said "feed us as I suggested for 10 days, then take us for a check-up and compare us to the ones who ate the king's diet". The prince agreed and at the end of 10 days, Daniel and his 3 friends were fairer in flesh and had put on more weight than the other hundreds who bowed to the kings command. And, in my opinion, they were sharper in mind and attitude as the strong drink would have altered their ability to think straight and make good decisions. So, from then on, Daniel got to choose his diet and no one even questioned his decisions and God gave him and his 3 friends knowledge, skill, and wisdom and to Daniel, He gave understanding in all visions and dreams. So many in our culture want all of the above, but are not willing to make the decision that Daniel made in Verse 8. They'd like to have all the gifts of the Spirit, but refuse to be led by that Spirit. Friends, we can't be used of God in any setting when we are associated and join affinity with the system lorded over by Satan, the god of this world. (I John 2:15-17). God's using Daniel depended upon his being steadfast in his commitments to Him and he could not let a change of culture change his walk with God. 
 
1:20 is interesting. Daniel had asked for a 10 day trial to prove that God was with them and God gave them 10 times more wisdom and understanding than all the wise men, magicians and astrologers in the Babylonian government. Verse 11, begins with, "And Daniel continued"........continued what? trusting God, living for God and obeying the laws of God and this would prove to be his method of survival during his entire tenure in Babylon. Daniel was so close to God that even when the king had a dream he could not remember, God showed Daniel the dream and the interpretation of the dream. Daniel 4:9, no secret troubled Daniel and everything he foretold came to pass and will come to pass (Daniel 4:28). He alone could read the handwriting on the wall because he was led by that same hand. He had an excellent spirit and he could dissolve doubts (5:12). I love this about Daniel as doubt is a plague Satan is trying to breed into every child of God. We need this gift of "dissolving doubt". It comes thru prayer, fasting and using the shield of faith. Daniel had a reputation, built and preserved through years of obedience and prayer (Daniel 5:13-16). He was bold and did not mince words when standing before earthly kings for his Heavenly King was controlling his words (Daniel 5:17-23). He had lost all fear of these monarchs and when those in service with him turned against him, he still trusted in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Daniel 6:4,22-28). Chapters 7 and 8 reveal some visitations from God and heavenly messengers that are unprecedented and so unusual that the meanings of them are just now being revealed to Bible scholars and spiritually minded who study about end time events. Daniel saw his people, Israel, but he also was informed about the Church, the anti-christ, the tribulation and other end time things to come to pass, possibly in our lifetime (Daniel 12:4). 
 
Daniel teaches us about intercessory prayer and fasting and what it can do for our spiritual man. In Daniel 10, he teaches us the importance of waiting on an answer to come and how important it is not to give up on what we are praying for. Daniel 10:13 reveals Paul's writings in Ephesians 6 and lets us know that between us and our answer from God, there are powers, principalities, rulers and darkness of this world and spiritual l wickedness in high places. The same powers that blocked Daniel's answer from coming is the same ones we wrestle with today! 
 
So, what can we learn from Daniel? (1) Don't get so attached to this world that you can't deal with sudden changes. We never know what is going to happen, especially in these troubled times, so be prepared for change and when it comes. The Kingdom of God is not meat and drink. So we have to give up some comforts? What are they compared to how God will show us His glory and power and use us for His Kingdom (Romans 14:17).  (2) Hold on to your faith and don't let sudden change defer the unfeigned faith that is in your heart. Love and serve God no matter where life takes you.(3) Don't be afraid of "risk". If you have to step out by faith and make a challenge concerning your beliefs, standards and the way you see the Word, then step out and do it with confidence, love and faith in the the God who said He'd never leave you or forsake you. (4) Remember that you are influencing those around you; they are watching your life; they are listening to your words and your decisions are going to bring them closer to God or drive them away from God. Your life is the only Bible they read, so live it in line with scripture. (5) God can use us if we stay true to Him-there are visions, dreams, gifts of the Spirit and so many other jobs to do for the Kingdom, so stay true in the areas of integrity, standards and lifestyle and God will move you onward and upward to greater positions. 
 
Thanks for reading and we pray that this lesson is a blessing to  you and yours.
 
Scripture References Luke 16: 1-13, Luke 9:23-27; plus the references in Daniel in this lesson. 

 

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