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.


Don’t Just Believe God Exists: Make it Personal

9558177c5aab1e8fed3bf45a580a95d6I have recently been studying the book of Daniel and am truly amazed by his love for and faith in God. The scriptures refer to him as beloved and faithful on multiple occasions, traits anybody would strive for. Daniel aside, I was intrigued by the story of king Nebuchadnezzar. How could someone witness such incredible miracles done by the hand of God and not surrender to Him on the spot? I just cannot wrap my head around that. Yet this very thing continues to happen time and time again, both in scripture and in modern times.

For the first time I recognized what happened when king Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged God for what He had done and who He was to others, compared to when he personally connected with God and surrendered to Him. You see, being amazed by God’s mighty works is not the same as being truly captivated by His grace and mercy, surrendering all to serve Him.

After God revealed king Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and its interpretation to Daniel he brought it before the king, giving God all the credit and taking none for himself. The king responded by falling on his face before Daniel acknowledging that Daniel’s God was the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and revealer of secrets (Daniel 2:46). It might appear at first that the king had a bit of a heart change, but the following chapters reveal that this wasn’t so. Despite recognizing what God had done and who He was Nebuchadnezzar did not change at all.

In the very next story, one of the most well known in the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar sets up a golden image and commands everyone to bow down to it. After Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego refuse and God delivers them from the fiery furnace, it appears once more that the king has a change of heart. But once again, no real change has taken place, despite the incredible miracle God had performed right in front of him. Nebuchadnezzar blesses the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, ordering that all people should worship this God Daniel 3:28-29 , yet continues to refer to God, not as his own, but as the God of another.

Underneath the façade, Nebuchadnezzar praises and worships himself, believing that he is in total control of his own life and destiny. God has to bring him low, removing him from the pedestal of pride he created for himself. It is only after years of suffering and humility that Nebuchadnezzar personally recognizes God as his own. He states, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.” (Daniel 4:37). He finally had a personal experience with God and surrendered.

In order for real life change to take place God has to become real to you, as evidenced by what you say and how you live your life. You don’t have to wait for God to bring you low before you fall on your face to worship Him. You can make the choice today to experience God for yourself and surrender your life to Him.

Pray that God will open your eyes to His truth and love and then take a look around. In this new light you will see His beauty surrounding you and will be amazed by the love and forgiveness He offers you through His son Jesus Christ.