DANIEL DISTINGUISHED HIMSELF!
Daniel was exiled to Babylon with many others when he was a young man. He lived in a foreign country where ungodliness was rampant. Yet he was so faithful in his walk with God that it made even the kings take notice!
1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps, to be over the whole kingdom;
2 and over these, three governors, of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them, so that the king would suffer no loss.
3 Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because AN EXCELLENT SPIRIT WAS IN HIM; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm.
Daniel had an excellent spirit in him!
Do we strive for the same kind of excellence in our walk with God? It is likely that many of those who were carried off with Daniel had accepted more of a "middle of the road"position in their faith. There was a lot of pressure to bow to the idols of Babylon. Sometimes to disobey was to risk one's own life. Living more of a private, "politically correct" kind of faith could easily be justified, without much criticism from most.
Yet Daniel never backed down! The other governors and satraps, his fellow rulers, were jealous and wanted Daniel out of the way. So they conned King Darius into creating a law stating that, anyone petitioning or praying to any other god or man for thirty days except the king, would be thrown in the lions den. King Darius unwittingly signed the decree, not realizing it would be used against Daniel.
How might we respond today? Would we obey the law? After all it's only thirty days and we are commanded to obey the laws of the land. Would we continue to pray privately, in secret so we could please both God and the King?
Daniel's response was uncompromising and unhidden!
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.
Three aspects jump out about Daniel's response to the decree.
1. He proclaimed his faith boldly! Daniel did not try to hide or cleverly disguise his faith to make it acceptable to unbelievers. He did not petition the king to change the law. He went to pray with his windows opened toward Jerusalem, letting the whole world know that he would obey God rather than man!
When Jesus' disciples were commanded by the religious leaders of their time, not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, they responded in a similar way:
18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.
20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
2. He continued to pray! It is one thing to proclaim you believe something. It is quite another to act! Daniel may have avoided the lion's den if he had merely disagreed with the decree not to pray. At that point, it is merely academic - a matter of discussion. But when one crosses over the line to disobey a man-made law, based on personal convictions, the stakes can become much higher!
What if Rosa Parks had merely "disagreed" with the preferential treatment of whites on her famous bus ride in Montgomery? What if she had voiced her disapproval, but then proceeded to give up her seat to a white person? It was her action that changed American history so dramatically - not her words!
Daniel knew that his prayers, with his windows open, would be heard by those jealously trying to trap and destroy him. But who else may have heard him praying? How many who heard may have been strengthened in their own faith by Daniel's bold decision to obey God rather than man? Perhaps some only heard it secondhand or read about it many years later!
I have never met either Daniel or Rosa Parks but their bold actions can still inspire me today!
3. Daniel continued in his ways! Daniel had a custom of praying three times a day from his early days! You can't have an excellent spirit, as Daniel had, by only making an effort to pray when there is a crisis!
Daniel's excellent spirit sprung from a lifestyle of consistent prayer. Daniel also was a student of the Word of God:
...I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
Daniel's willingness to proclaim his faith, take action to continue to consistently and faithfully seek God, resulted in spiritual excellence!
More than a celebration of Daniel's excellence, it is a challenge to all of us today!
Do we want to allow the world to press us into its mold? Do we want to be "middle-of-the-road," "politically correct" Christians who have little real influence on the world? Or do we want to change the world by having an excellent spirit as Daniel had?
That is a question that each one of us must ask ourselves! It is impossible to know how truly important that choice might be for some of us!
How might our world be different if the Daniels and Rosa Parks of this world had chosen differently?
GOOD-HEARTED DISCUSSIONS ARE WELCOME AND HIGHLY ENCOURAGED!!!
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