Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 21 November 21:
Note: Here is a short video overview of Daniel: https://youtu.be/9cSC9uobtPM
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.”
Through perilous times, God’s faithful servants remained 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?
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 after Babylon’s attack on Jerusalem, Daniel managed to keep himself completely pure before the Lord. He “resolved” to do this. Daniel did not let himself feel “defeated” nor did he allow the temptations of his day interfere with his relationship with the Lord. He knew that to make his life useful to God he had to strive to be obedient in all things. Regardless of what the most powerful king in the world commanded, and regardless what most everyone else around him was doing, Daniel refused to compromise what he knew God required of him. How resolved are you to remain uncompromisingly pure and holy before the Lord?
- 2 Timothy 2:20-21 — Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
Consider the circumstances Daniel faced: His nation had been conquered by a ruthless, seemingly unstoppable kingdom, and he had been taken into captivity. Now, consider his response to these circumstances – faith, hope, and loving obedience to God which glorified God and would be used mightily by God. How are you responding to your circumstances? Do you have the faith and hope to believe that God, who has called you to Himself, who has equipped you with His Spirit, and who has called you in this time to proclaim the Gospel and to serve as His messenger and minister of reconciliation will work mightily through you regardless your apparent circumstances? Do you have the faith, hope, and love to remain holy, pure, faithful, and obedient right where God has placed you so you can glorify Him?
World events never catch God by surprise. He placed you precisely where you are at this time in history for a purpose. Biblical history (His story) is replete with examples of faithful Christian men and women through whom God worked to make a significant difference for His kingdom. God strategically placed Joseph 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). Through unimaginable circumstances, God raised up Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt’s oppressive bondage (Exodus 1-15). 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) – the list continues…. How might God use you for His glory where you are today? Are you allowing your circumstances to define you or the reality of God’s Sovereignty, who you are in Christ, and what God has called and equipped you to do? Are you making the most of every opportunity to glorify God in your generation?
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 and very nutritious. However, Daniel was committed to not defiling himself with meat sacrificed to idols (meat wasn’t the issue but rather meat which was sacrificed to idols). His harsh, extreme vegetarian diet worried 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 instructed His people to eat meat, even during religious ceremony as is described and regulated throughout the Bible. (Genesis 9:3; Romans 14:2; 1 Corinthians 8:8); Acts 15:29) Today’s readings demonstrate what great lengths Daniel took (risking his life) to remain pure and faithful to the Lord, no matter what everyone else did.
* 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 and everchanging social norms. Don’t allow popular fads restrict from your life what God has blessed or invite into your life what God has forbidden.
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, though it will not be fully realized until Christ’s return; it is not like other kingdoms and will never be destroyed. 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) Also, we don’t win the victory, Christ does when He returns. What role are you playing in the advancement of the Kingdom?
Some thoughts from today’s readings from Psalms:
Psalm 138:1 – “I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart.”
Half-hearted worship is unworthy worship. Give thanks to the Lord will you whole heart.
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.
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.
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. People see what we reveal and judge us by our behavior. God sees all and judges our hearts. Strive for purity and holiness of heart before the Lord.
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.
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.
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.
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 can’t or 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 suffer needlessly. 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) – 21 November 21: Today, pray that you will worship and glorify God wholeheartedly and share the Gospel in a powerful way.