Friday, September 12, 2014

Daniel 1-3

Today we meet Daniel.  He's a young guy from the "royal family" in Jerusalem who is exiled to Babylon (605-538 BC), trained in Babylonian language and literature for three years, and then he's brought into the king's service.

Daniel's faith in God is an inspiration.  His faith carries him through his circumstances.  And God reveals His power and sovereignty through Daniel.  

It's not that Daniel's life is easy.  In fact, Daniel and his faithful friends are tested over and over again as they face some very challenging situations in a foreign land.  Yet, Daniel shows us how God really is with us, working in our lives even when things are not how we'd want them to be.  Our responses to our circumstances are crucial to being faithful.

So, let's just see what faithfulness really looks like in Daniel 1-3.
  • Daniel and his friends do not eat the royal food and wine from the Babylonian king.  In this way, they are daring to be different than the culture and peer pressure that surrounds them.  David seems to see the world through the lens of his faith.  The key here is that David is "resolved" or determined in his faith, and God is able to bless Daniel (and his friends) and use those blessings for His glory.
"But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine...
Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel"

To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning.  And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
Daniel 1:17
  • In another test of faith, all the wise men in Babylon are about to be killed, innocent lives lost, because no one is able to interpret the king's dream.  Even though Daniel has no idea what the dream is, Daniel realizes that one of his gifts is understanding visions and dreams.  And more importantly, Daniel knows that this gift/talent is from God.  So, he takes a leap of faith in order to to save lives.  Daniel prays with his friends before he acts, and He is sure to give thanks to God.
"He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.  During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision.  Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said,
  'Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever: wisdom and power are His.'"
  • And the third test we read about today comes when Daniel's faithful friends are thrown in a blazing furnace because they refused to worship the  Babylonian king's image of gold.  They serve God above all else, and God protects them, rescues them, and shows His power beyond a shadow of a doubt.  As these faithful Jewish men who are thrown into the fire and forced to face the heat seem to beat the odds and live, people can't help but notice God.  He gets all the glory.
"Then Nebuchadnezzar [the Babylonian 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 God.  Therefore, I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.'  

Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon."

Today's reading reminds me that we are blessed when we choose to be faithful to our faithful God.  God blesses us with resources and gifts, and powerful things happen when we use them for God.  Daniel's faith helps others know who God is and how He works in the world.

I think what Daniel shows us is that it's those times in life when we are most inadequate and least equipped, when our circumstances seem most "imperfect and uncomfortable," that we are most likely to realize the fullness of God's transforming, graceful love.

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

I thank You for all the resources and gifts You bring to my life.  I thank You for my circumstances because I know You work all things for good and Your glory.

Help me to stand firm in my faith like Your servant, Daniel.    Strengthen my resolve, and guide my heart, my prayers, and my actions.  And as others see me, may they see Christ in all that I do.  Give me the eyes, Lord, to see Christ in others. 

I pray today about _____________________.  Reveal Your will, and fill the situation and the people involved with Your transforming presence and blessings.

All wisdom and power belong to You, Lord.

In Jesus name I pray,

Grace and peace,

*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

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