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As We Were Aforetime

Daniel 6:9-11 “Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.  Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.  Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.”

Acts 5:29 “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”

When the clear conflict came between faith and adherence to the rules of the state, Daniel didn’t hesitate to honor the Lord.  He didn’t sneak in an illegal prayer or two in a way that nobody would find out about his rebellion.  He didn’t marginalize his faith-filled practices in order to comply with the onerous violations of his sincerely held religious beliefs.  On the other hand, he didn’t undertake showy prideful acts as pharisaical demonstrations of his superior faithfulness either. 

Instead, Daniel did what he always did – with his windows open he kneeled in humble faithfulness.  He reliably prayed to His Lord and God as he did aforetime.  Daniel’s detractors knew exactly where to find him to condemn his acts because he was faithfully consistent in prioritizing the Lord in his life.

As conflicts come in our lives, may we not hesitate to honor the Lord.  May our faithfulness in the face of opposition cause us to reliably act as we did aforetime.  PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO BE RELIABLY FAITHFUL.  May our consistency be a clear sign to all around us that no matter what opposition we face, we will be faithful as we were aforetime.

Using It For Good

Daniel 6:4-5 “Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.  Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.”

Acts 5:29 “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”

Genesis 50:20 “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”

Daniel had a powerful testimony!  He was characterized by an excellent spirit, by determined and trusting obedience, and by excellence.  Even his strongest detractors acknowledged Daniel’s sterling, rightfully-earned reputation.  Yet, it wasn’t going to stop them from finding fault in order to see Daniel thrust into the lion’s den so that his prime position of influence was opened for one of them.

The only way they were going to tear down Daniel was to use his faithfulness against him, and that is exactly what these evil men did.  After all, they knew they “shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except [they found] it against him concerning the law of his God.”  As expected, Daniel could only be brought down by his honoring of God above all other authorities.  When he faced the vicious attacks based on his faithful stand, Daniel stood firm with unwavering strength and humble righteousness.  As a result, the Lord allowed the evil plans of men to actually elevate Daniel and Daniel’s God.  The detractors meant it for evil, but God used it for good!

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TODAY TO HAVE POWERFUL TESTIMONIES, ESPECIALLY IN RESPONSE TO ANY ATTACKS ON OUR FAITH!  May we be characterized by an excellent spirit, by determined and trusting obedience, and by excellence.  May even our strongest detractors acknowledge our sterling, rightfully-earned reputations.  May they realize that the only way they can tear us down is to use our faithfulness against us.   When we face vicious attacks based on our faithful stand, may we stand firm with unwavering strength and humble righteousness.  As a result, the Lord may allow the evil plans of men to actually elevate us and our God.  Our detractors will mean it for evil, but God can use it for good!

The Great God

Daniel 2:45b-48 “the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter; and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.  Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him.  The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.  Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.”

Daniel 6:1-3 “It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage.  Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.”

II Corinthians 3:5 “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God”

An additional aspect of Daniel’s “excellent spirit” (see the previous post) was his intentional deflection of praise to its rightful owner – the Lord God Himself. 

As Daniel completed his interpretation of the king’s dream, he closed with an important caveat about his personal interpretative abilities.  It wasn’t Daniel’s wisdom or power that allowed the meaning of the dream to be revealed, and Daniel wanted to be clear about that important fact.  Instead “the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter.”

That single, humble declaration allowed Daniel to maintain his integrity, master his pride, and maneuver attention to his God.  As a result of this move by one who embodied an excellent spirit, the king recognized the preeminence of the Lord while Daniel still benefited from a promotion.  God was glorified and God’s man was propelled to a position of greater influence.

In our lives, any time praise is directed towards us, may we find a way to ensure that the real source of our wisdom and power is elevated.  May our humble declarations allow us to maintain our integrity, master our pride, and maneuver attention to our God.  This embodiment of an excellent spirit will cause God to be glorified, and we may find that we are still propelled to a position of greater influence for Him.  PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO DEFLECT PRAISE AND GLORY TO GOD THROUGHOUT OUR LIVES.  After all, it is the great God who actually deserves it.

Refreshingly Distinct and Different

Daniel 6:1-3 “It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage.  Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.”

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

II Corinthians 6:17 “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”

Even in the sight of an ungodly leader, Daniel was preferred above all others.  He was placed in a position that was first above all other subordinates.  He had authority over all the princes and the presidents. 

The Word of God gives a simple two-word explanation for Daniel’s elevated status – he had an “excellent spirit.” 

The specifics of this description are absent, but the reader can quickly visualize a leader who embodies the characteristics described in Galatians chapter 5.  Daniel was a leader who lived a life different from the world because of the filling of the Holy Spirit.  His faithful obedience to the Lord caused him to be refreshingly distinct and different, and it provided him access and influence to change a world that desperately needed something that it was lacking.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AN EXCELLENT SPIRIT AMONG AMERICAN CHRISTIANS AS WE SEEK INFLUENCE AND IMPACT FOR CHRIST.  If we are to impact our Babylon, we too must be refreshingly distinct and different.  May a God-enabled excellent spirit provide us the access and influence to change a world that desperately needs something that it is lacking.

But If Not!

Daniel 3:12-14 “There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not rewarded thee:  they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.  Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  Then they brought these men before the king.  Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?”

Daniel 3:16-18 “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king.  O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.  If it be so, God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”

Daniel 3:28 “Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.”

The choice was clear for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  They were either to bow to the king or bow to the Lord.  The result of the former would likely be a pardon, and the result of the latter would cause them to face the full wrath of a powerful and ruthless monarch.  In all his rage and fury, the king made clear this stark choice to these young men.  Their response was convicting and powerful!

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not careful to answer the king.  While they fully understood the consequences, they also fully understood the primacy of subservience to the Lord.  Emboldened by faith, they told the king that they expected God to deliver them.  Yet, they also realized that God may have other plans that would lead to their demise.

Even then – maybe especially then – these young faithful men stood strong against the ungodly dictates of their dictator.  It was this step of faith through trusting obedience that punctuated their godly stand.  As a result, their God was able to demonstrate His power to a Babylonian people who otherwise were awed by earthly power. 

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO DEMONSTRATE A SPIRIT OF TRUSTING OBEDIENCE IN OUR LIVES.  We should not be careful in living for the glory and honor of God.  We should be committed to doing so, because we trust Him with the outcome.  Even when the odds are against us, we must stand strong in the spirit embodied by these young men by saying with our words and with our actions – But If Not we will remain faithful!

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