Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 25 November 18:
Note: Here is a short video overview of Daniel: https://youtu.be/9cSC9uobtPM
1. Daniel 1:3, 4 – “Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.” God’s faithful servants were excellent in all things (1 Corinthians 10:31; 2 Corinthians 8:7; Colossians 3:23, 24; Ecclesiastes 9:10). They stood out not only spiritually but in every way. Therefore, Daniel and his friends had a unique advantage in service to God. God calls us to be excellent in all things too, increasing our influence that we would bring Him greater glory on earth. Do you strive for excellence in every way?
2. Daniel 1:8 – “But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.”
– Though a captive in a pagan land, Daniel managed to keep himself completely pure before the Lord. He “resolved” to do this. How resolved are you to remain pure?
– Would you dare to believe that God, who called you to Himself and equipped you with His Spirit, could work mightily through you? Have you made the connection between the time and place in which you live and God’s call upon you? World events never catch God by surprise. He placed you precisely where you are for a purpose. Daniel did not let the temptations of his day interfere with his relationship to the Lord. He knew that to make his life useful to God he must be obedient in all things. Regardless of what the most powerful king in the world commanded, Daniel refused to compromise what he knew God required of him. History is replete with examples of Christian men and women who believed that God would work through them to make a significant difference for His kingdom. God placed Esther strategically in the king’s court at a crucial time when she could save the lives of God’s people (Esther 4:14). God placed Joseph strategically to become the most powerful adviser to the pharaoh in Egypt and to save Jacob and his family from a devastating drought (Gen. 41:39-40). Are you allowing your surroundings to determine how you invest your life? Or are you letting God use you to make a difference in your generation? Ask God to reveal His purposes for you and His will for your life today.
3. Daniel 1:12 — “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink.” Some popular diet books have tried to suggest that Daniel desired a vegetarian diet to stay healthy, but that wasn’t the case at all. The King’s meat would have been meat sacrificed to idols – the finest meat available, very nutritious. However, Daniel was committed to not defiling himself with meat sacrificed to idols. His harsh, extreme vegetarian diet concerned the “chief of the eunuchs” for good reason, but God honored Daniel’s fidelity. These verses aren’t intended to promote a vegan lifestyle. In fact, after the flood, God desired His people to eat meat, even during religious ceremony, as described and regulated throughout the Bible. Whether we are talking about nutrition, adornment, courtesies, or any other social choices, we must be very careful not to interpret the Bible out of context to validate human wisdom. Don’t allow popular fads restrict from your life what God has blessed.
4. Daniel 1:17-20 – “God gave them learning and skill…. among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore, they stood before the king. And in every matter… he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom.”
– God gave Daniel great knowledge but also gave him supernatural understanding, which turns knowledge into wisdom – knowledge rightly applied. God can show His servants what is impossible for them to understand naturally.
– It is God who empowers His servants, and when He does, no one can compare with them. God empowers the faithful.
5. Daniel 2:11 – “The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.” Nebuchadnezzar intentionally gave the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans an impossible task because he wanted a supernatural answer rather than a fake miracle from people who claimed a power that really didn’t have.
6. Daniel 2:17, 18 – “Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.” In distress and faced with an impossible situation, Daniel went to the Lord, but he did not go alone, he called his friends seek God’s mercy with him. Daniel understood that prayer would be more effective if it were done in companionship. God calls us to worship and pray with other fellow Christians.
7. Daniel 2:20-22 – “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.” Wisdom comes only from God; all power comes from God. Through God, we can know what we would otherwise never be able to know. God will reveal to you what you need to know if you will walk with Him in fidelity.
8. Daniel 2:27, 28, 30 – “Daniel answered the king and said, ‘No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days…. But as for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living….” Daniel was very careful not to share glory with God or to suggest that he had any knowledge apart from what God had revealed to him. Daniel gave God all of the glory by ensuring the king knew that Daniel was not special. Are you still trying to be special? Are you still trying to give people your opinion as if it has any value? Or, are you saying, “Not me, but Jesus.” Never be a self-promoter.
9. Daniel 2:44, 45 — “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold.”
– We are subjects of God’s Kingdom, and we are called to be the KING’s ambassadors “in the days of those kings.” Even the United States is one of “those” kingdoms. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God, a much higher calling than any national loyalties. God calls us to obey government, but to remain faithful to Him and His Kingdom above all else.
– God’s Kingdom is ‘set up’ in the days of the worldly kingdoms; it is not like other kingdoms and will never be destroyed. God’s kingdom destroys the other kingdoms on earth. Jesus announced, “the kingdom of God has come upon you…. The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand…. The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (Matthew 12:28; Mark 1:15; Luke 17:20, 21) Furthermore, concerning God’s true church, the Bible says He has “made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:10) God’s people “are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,” among the nations, preparing the way for the return of the King. (1 Peter 2:9) Micah 5:7-9 describes a global, spiritual insurgency for the Lord – “Then the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which delay not for a man nor wait for the children of man. And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among the flocks of sheep, which, when it goes through, treads down and tears in pieces, and there is none to deliver. Your hand shall be lifted up over your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off.” Of course, this insurgency is not violent like that envisioned by the Islamists but rather is spiritual – “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4) What role are you playing in the advancement of the Kingdom?
10. Daniel 2:47, 48 – “The king answered and said to Daniel, ‘Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.’ Then the king gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon.”
– Do you want to impact the world? We need merely to be faithful and un-comprising ambassadors and let the true power of God be revealed through us.
– Daniel remained faithful to God and trusted God, regardless the personal risk, and was given power he never could have imagined, not for his comfort and prestige but rather so that he could be placed in a position to have an even greater impact for God’s glory. Daniel’s new position would only increase his challenges.
11. Proverbs 25:2 – “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.” The government-run education system in our country is based upon the assumption that one can acquire knowledge and wisdom without God as part of the equation, and today, the “enlightened” class more and more reject God, pursuing more and more knowledge for their own glory. However, God in His glory withholds truth for the His followers, truth that can only be obtained through the Spirit. Man’s ‘knowledge’ is foolishness in God’s eyes.
12. Proverbs 25:7, 8 – “What your eyes have seen do not hastily bring into court, for what will you do in the end, when your neighbor puts you to shame?” Human discernment is always deceiving because we cannot see the whole picture that only God sees, hence the reason we should not judge others because we do not know what God knows about them and about the situation at hand. 1 Corinthian 4:5 says, “Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.”
13. Proverbs 25:21, 22 – “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” God wants you to treat those who offend you with nothing but kindness. This is hard to do, particularly when you are caught off guard by bad behavior. Often our first response is to push back against offenders. Often our first, unguarded response reveals what is really in our hearts. Pay attention to your first responses, and pray for a genuinely loving heart that automatically loves the sinner who hurts us.
14. Proverbs 25:26 – “Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.” Don’t let the wicked influence your behavior. Prepare yourself to meet the wicked today by reading God’s word, praying for strength in obedience, and resolving in your heart not to sin at the moment of decision.
15. Proverbs 25:27, 28 – “It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory. A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Do not let your selfish desires and pride get the best of you today. Apply self-control which is given to you by the Spirit (not your own will power). When tempted, turn to the Spirit for strength. Today, you will be tempted to follow your urges and passions rather than the Spirit. Prepare yourself for the challenge and set your mind before the challenge. Be a selfless servant of Jesus today.
16. Psalm 138:1 – “I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart.” Half-heartedness doesn’t do God justice.
17. Psalm 138:6 – “For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.” God being Spirit is not subject to distance in the physical sense. Nearness or farness from God relates to fellowship, love, and obedience. The prideful, disobedient, and unrepentant are far from God spiritually.
18. Psalm 138:8 – “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” No matter what you are going through, you can have complete confidence in the fact that God will fulfill His purpose for your life. Trust and obey Him through all things.
19. Psalm 139:1-4 – “O Lord, you have searched me and known me…! You discern my thoughts from afar. You… are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.” God knows the real you, seeing beyond your actions to the motives behind your actions. Seek to honestly see about yourself what God sees, and strive to grow in genuine love and selflessness. Strive for purity and holiness.
20. Psalm 139:16 – “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” God cherishes the unborn baby.
21. Psalm 139:17 – “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!” Seek to make your thoughts God’s thoughts, to have the mind of Christ.
22. Psalm 139:21, 22 – “Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.” Not all hate is bad.
23. Psalm 139: 23, 24 – “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” The Holy Spirit can reveal to you what you refuse to see in yourself, and the Holy Spirit can reveal to you what you need to change in your life. However, if you refuse to listen or change, your ability to hear the Holy Spirit will diminish, your heart will harden, and you will be destroyed by your disobedience. Pray that God will reveal to you where your heart is not right and that He will guide you to greater holiness, purity, and love.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 25 Nov 18: Today, in prayer, search your heart and consider the true motives behind your actions. Seek to walk selflessly, guided by the Spirit. When you catch yourself acting selfishly, stop, dig deeply within you, and consider why. Where are harboring idols (things that have more influence over you at times than God)? Where are you harboring pride? Where are you doubting God? Seek to identify the heart of your sin, the problem with your heart. Pray for God’s strength in overcoming your selfishness, and rest in God’s grace when you fail, understanding that He loves you perfectly despite your failures.