117 of 365 - And if not...
If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up. Daniel 3:17-18
In obedience, Esther boldly approached the king. In obedience, Daniel refused to deny God and bow to the king. In obedience, Abraham brought Isaac up the mountain to be sacrificed, Moses demanded Pharaoh let the Israelites go, Rahab hid the Israelite spies, Ruth followed Naomi, Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal, Hosea married a prostitute, the prophets declared God’s judgment and redemptive promises. They didn’t know how it would all end for their lives personally, but they believed in God. They believed God.
God IS in the miracle business. If it is what is best for us and God’s kingdom, He will heal immediately with joy. But His plans are bigger than our plans. He knows and sees more than we do. He knows what is best, even if it is painful in the moment. He is after our healing in more ways than we know…it just might look different than we imagine.
Three of Daniel’s friends counted the cost and declared it worth it when, despite the penalty of death by fire, they refused to bow to the statue of the king, declaring God is ABLE to deliver them from the fiery furnace. But they didn’t end there. They continued saying they knew He COULD deliver them, BUT IF NOT – if in His sovereignty and all-knowing, all-seeing purpose, He didn’t save them from the fire – they still refused to deny Him and worship the golden image. They knew God was able to do anything, but they would follow Him even if It didn’t look like they thought it would. His glory was their reward.
God isn’t looking for a crowd of miracle-only seekers. He is looking for followers, disciples, fellow warriors. He is worthy of our following.
Questions: Will you follow God even if the current circumstances and future outcomes in this life look different than you hoped? Will you still be all in when facing the trials?
115 of 365 - Firm in Faith
So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. Daniel 6:23b
A new king emerges on the scene and Daniel (for the second time) is summoned to interpret dreams. With all of Daniel’s knowledge, he recognizes that it is limited and he needs to lean on the wisdom and understanding of God. Daniel always gives God the glory, acknowledging everything he knows and can do is only because it was given to him by God. He never tries to take the credit or seek glory for himself. In all of his ways, Daniel points to God.
Daniel is rewarded greatly by the king for his unique abilities to rightly know and interpret dreams. This may sound like a great thing for Daniel, but….
…the rest of the people in the king’s inner circle are raging with jealousy. They are on a mission to find a crack in Daniel’s character; anything to get him out of the picture for good, but they can find nothing. The only thing they know they can count on is how unwaveringly faithful to God Daniel is, so they seek to catch him there. What if the only thing people could find against us was our faithfulness to God?
The king’s men come up with a plan to have the king issue an ordinance that anyone who pays homage to a god other than the king should be thrown into the lion’s dens. They were certain Daniel would not cease praying to God. They were certain they had him!
As expected, Daniel stays firm in his faith, despite knowing the consequences. To the lion’s den he must go!
But it wasn’t Daniel’s time to die. God sends angels to close the mouths of the lions and protect Daniel. May we strive to be like Daniel, a faithful example of obedient living and trusting God in all things, from wisdom to protection.
Questions: Have you ever felt punished in some way by peers for staying firm in your faith? How hard is it to stay firm and do the right thing when you know there will be worldly consequences?
114 of 365 - Boundary Lines
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. Daniel 1:3-4
Daniel opens with Judah being defeated by the Babylonians. The last of the Israelites sovereignty as a nation gone. The city and even the Temple were plundered and the king’s family, along with the strongest, smartest, and best-looking Jews were exiled to Babylon. Daniel was among this group.
The Babylonian king had a plan. He wanted to reprogram these Jewish men and make them true Babylonians. He would give them the finest food and wine, new literature, a new language, a new value system, a new way to think and act. A three-year training program. The Jewish men would have a choice: remain God’s chosen people – obedient and set apart – or conform to the new culture they found themselves in.
Daniel draws boundary lines immediately. He refuses to defile himself and asks permission from the attending servant to abstain from the king’s food and wine. He wanted a meager meal of vegetables and water.
At the end of their three-year training program, all the men were brought before the king. None were found to be a match for Daniel (and his three friends who joined him in establishing boundaries) in terms of appearance, wisdom, and understanding. God had given them all they needed for the position they found themselves in before the king.
Like Daniel, culture is trying hard to influence us as well. We are bombarded with enticing messages and tempted with choices that are contrary to God’s Word. It’s a slippery slope and we too need to learn to draw cultural boundary lines.
Questions: Why do you think it was important for Daniel to draw the line immediately as to what he was willing to do? Are there lines you need to draw in the cultural surroundings you find yourself in?