Four Things That Set Daniel Apart

bibleEvery time I read about Daniel I am amazed by his love for and faithfulness to God. Even in the midst of impossible circumstances Daniel remained faithful. So what was it about Daniel that truly set him apart? Why did it seem so easy for him to stay true to God when everyone else waivered and gave in?

Below are four things that I believe were true about Daniel that set him apart:

He wasn’t willing to defile himself: I really love this truth about Daniel because I believe it is essential to his biblical example. Daniel had one main goal, to honor God in all he did. One definition of defile I found is to make foul, dirty, or unclean; Those are some pretty powerful and descriptive words. Isn’t this what we do to ourselves when we allow even the smallest sins to corrupt us? Scripture says that Daniel purposed in his heart not to defile himself (Daniel 1:8).

I’m not saying this means that Daniel never sinned, but he purposed (meaning he had the intention or objective) in his heart to do all he could not to defile himself. It’s an intentional and daily choice we have to make, one that Daniel made and one that set him apart as a man of god. As you purpose this in your heart you will find that you will become more aware of your sin and will no longer turn a blind eye to it. It is the overlooked sin that Satan uses to gain a foothold in the lives of Christians.

 He was willing to sacrifice: This truth about Daniel is probably the most difficult to swallow. This is especially true in a generation that is self-absorbed and obsessed with pleasure. For Christians it can be easy to blend in rather than sacrifice and be set apart for Christ. Daniel was taken from his own land into Babylon. He was chosen by the king, along with other young men, to eat the kings delicacies and receive three years of training in order to become capable of serving in the kingdom. Daniel did not want to defile himself with the king’s delicacies so he requested to be given water and beans.

Now for someone who absolutely loves to eat good food, that’s me by the way, this seems like a huge sacrifice! Daniel chose sacrifice over pleasure in order to honor God. (He also went as far as sacrificing his own life to honor God! We will touch on this later.) How often are we faced with this choice and choose wrong? After ten days Daniel and his friends looked better than all the other young men who ate the kings food and drank his wine. Because of this Daniel and every other young man ate beans and drank water for the remainder of the three years! Now that is sacrifice. Are we willing to sacrifice, like Daniel did, to be set apart for God?

 He wasn’t concerned with what others thought of him. Try to picture this. A group of young men are being fed probably the most delicious food and enjoying delicious wine daily. Then some guy comes along and messes it all up. This yummy food and wine turns into water and beans. Do you think everybody was thrilled with Daniel at this point? I would guess not. But guess what? Daniel couldn’t care less what others thought of him! He was concerned with what God thought of him and that was it. Think about the peace of mind he must have had. This is something I truly hope to achieve in my lifetime. Are we willing to be everyone else’s enemy in order to please our God? Daniel certainly was and his life was a reflection of this.

His faithfulness to God was unshakable and was evident to others. Fast-forward a lot of years to a story almost everyone knows about. Daniel and the lion’s den. Because Daniel was filled with God’s spirit and was highly respected he was placed in leadership in the kingdom. The other leaders were angry and wanted to destroy him. Daniel 6:4 says, “So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him.” This is such a convicting verse. It really causes me to question my own faithfulness. I know for a fact if someone looked hard enough they could find fault in me. But Daniel’s faithfulness was unshakable.

The only way to catch Daniel was concerning his God. A law was created that anybody who prayed to any god or man aside from the king for thirty days would be thrown into a den of lions. Daniel’s faithfulness was so evident to others that they knew without a doubt that this would work! How amazing is that? Is my faithfulness to God evident to those around me? That even in the face of death I wouldn’t waiver? These are questions I so want to answer yes to! Do you? Well as you can guess and probably know, Daniel remained faithful. He prayed to his God and was throw into the den. But God delivered Daniel and spared his life.

One thing I have learned from studying Daniel is that I want these four truths to be true about me. With God’s strength and daily intentional living I know that they can be, just as they can be true for you. The only thing standing in my way, and in yours, is how strong my desire is to be set apart from this world, as Daniel was, living a life that brings honor and glory to God.

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Hope in the Midst of Trials

Storm

Have you ever faced a trial that seemed like too much to bear? Whenever this happens to me God reminds me of the story of Joseph. I remember all he had to endure to get to the place that God wanted him to be (Genesis 37). Joseph was able to handle the trials he faced because God was with him. In the same way, if we stand close to God and set our hearts and minds on Him we will be able to endure the trials we face. Despite the peace that comes from this realization, I often find myself asking God why. Why do I have to endure these trials? Why can’t God just get me where he wants me trial free? I’m sure you often wonder the same thing.

So why does God allow us to face trials? Trials that are often painful and seemingly unbearable. James 1:2-4 (NKJV) says, “my brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” Facing trials grows our faith and produces patience, helping us to become capable of becoming who God intended us to be. If we truly believe that facing various trials will make us perfect and complete, lacking nothing, then we should welcome them with open arms, being expectant that great things will come from them.

Joseph wasn’t qualified to become who God needed him to be. He had to go through some trying times in order to develop into the man that would be capable of humbly ruling a nation while at the same time faithfully serving God. This is a serious and somewhat impossible task. The seventeen-year-old Joseph might not have been up to the task. In his pride Joseph shared with his brothers his dream of ruling over his family. This led to his brothers hating him and eventually selling him into slavery. What if that Joseph, the bragger, didn’t have to go through the trials that he did? Do you think he would have been as capable of all that God had for him? God used the awful things Joseph had to face to strengthen his faith and dependence on God. This is the kind of man who can rule a nation humbly, honoring and bringing glory to God. Had life gone well and easily for him he might not have developed into the man of God he became, being used to save an entire nation.

I have had to face a lot of painful and difficult trials in my life. In the past I often questioned why God allowed things to happen. What I have come to find is that God can use any trial, no matter how horrible it is, for good. When Joseph saw his brothers again he said the most amazing thing to them. Every time I read it I am in awe of God and His grace! He said “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20) This is such a beautiful picture of God’s grace and love for us. Don’t lose hope in the midst of your trial. Remind yourself that God is always faithful and good and will use for good what others meant for evil.

Maybe you are currently going through some tough times and are questioning whether or not God is with you. Take some comfort in the fact that even while serving as a slave in another man’s household, and while in prison, God was with Joseph and he prospered. On top of this, when Joseph ran into his brothers, you know the ones who wanted to kill him and eventually sold him to slavery, he felt nothing but love for them, comforting them and speaking kindly to them. This is a true example of Joseph’s character. A character that I believe was shaped and molded through his trials as he held onto God and didn’t waiver in his faith. As you face your trials focus on the fact that God is refining you and molding you to better reflect his image.

I’m not sure why you are facing the trials you are facing, but I do know for sure that God wants nothing but the best for you and your life. If you decide to surrender your life to Him and accept Jesus Christ as your savior no trial you ever face again will be too much for you to handle.