Again in Daniel 10, we read about one of God’s chosen spokespersons being touched on the mouth (v. 16) to strengthen him to serve the Lord.
Daniel 9 gave us an example of taking spiritual responsibility for things that weren’t his fault. Instead of just complaining, intercede!
The latter part of Daniel 9 introduces us to a fascinating end-times prophecy, but I’d like to draw your attention to the beginning of the chapter. As foretold by the prophet Jeremiah, the people of Israel had been in exile for nearly 70 years because of their disobedience to the Lord. (Daniel experienced the exile first-hand, as he was one of the young Israelite men selected to be trained in Babylon for service to the king.)
In keeping with God’s example of creating the world in six days and resting on the seventh, the people of Israel had very specific regulations about their work ethic, including honoring the Sabbath day each week and letting the land rest every seventh year. As we read time and time again in the Old Testament (as well as modern day, if we’re honest about ourselves), the people had veered away from following God. Jeremiah tried to warn them to get back on track, but they didn’t listen.
God has a way of bringing his will to pass, even when we are stubborn and don’t follow it, in the first place. I think it’s interesting how the people of Israel neglected the Lord’s instructions to let the land rest every so often, yet the land went fallow for decades while they were in exile. It reminds me of how we go-go-go through life, and then – wham! – you get sick and have to stay in bed for a few days, smack in the middle of a busy schedule. Our bodies need rest, even if we have to be forced to do it.
Daniel realized through his own studying of Jeremiah that the period of exile was coming to a close, so he prayed to the Lord in humility to ask for God’s forgiveness and mercy. I think this is interesting, as well. God said that the people would be in exile for 70 years, but instead of just waiting out the time, Daniel approached the Lord submissively and asked for forgiveness for his people. Daniel was a young man when he was exiled; he could hardly be blamed for the decisions of his forefathers, yet he bore the burden and interceded on their behalf. May we, too, stand in the gap for our communities in prayer.
Daniel 3:16-18 tells about three young men who took a stand in the face of death, come what may. Stand firm in your faith, too.
We don’t know exactly how old Daniel was; many scholars believe he was a teen or a young man, at most. What would you do in his shoes?
This week’s teaching pastor at CBI (Cedar Bible Institute, a youth discipleship class) posed this question to the teens: Have you ever felt like God was calling you to do something? The context was about the story of Daniel, in which he and his exiled buddies stood up to domineering leadership, first in regard to what they ate and drank, but later in much more dire situations that landed them in life-threatening scenarios on multiple occasions.
The lesson prompted an interesting discussion at home later that day, so I thought I would pitch the same question to you. Have you ever felt like God was leading you to do something in particular?
It could be as simple as feeling compelled to sit by someone new at lunch and striking up a friendly conversation. It could require a little more courage to act on a nudge on your heart to offer the cup of fruit that you just bought in the lunchline to that kid who brings a cheese sandwich and nothing else to eat every day. It could mean offering to pray for someone right there on the spot, because you sense the Holy Spirit prompting you to do so. It might even mean sharing your faith and inviting someone to pray and invite Jesus to be their personal Savior.
One of the things I love most about C.S. Lewis’ teachings is how he acknowledges our God-given common sense. I mean, if it’s raining or snowing outside, do you really need to pray and ask the Lord whether you should wear heels or rubber-soled shoes that day? Common sense says that if you don’t want to break an ankle, then go with the sensible shoes. I don’t believe the Holy Spirit functions like an air traffic controller in our lives, dictating our every move. And yet, there are times when his voice is as clear to our hearts as a megaphone to our ears.
Daniel and his friends understood the need to stay in tune with the Holy Spirit, and not only did that diligence to hear God’s voice keep them out of a heap of trouble, it also allowed them the opportunity to witness to one of the greatest leaders in ancient history. King Nebuchadnezzar even penned part of the book of Daniel as his personal testimony!
God may not ever call you to defy a den of lions or withstand a fiery furnace, but there may be situations like the cafeteria examples above, where you have a chance to make a kingdom-sized impact within your own social circle. Will you listen for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and then be willing to act on it?
So, I had this devotional idea to write about discipline, after I came across a few verses in Proverbs 19 that I’ll share below. I was thinking about telling the story of how my brother once kicked a hole in my bedroom door because sweet, lil’ innocent me made him mad for some reason or another that I’m sure was his fault, to begin with. 😉
I pondered this idea for a few days, and then – I kid you not – one of my boys lost his temper and put a boot-toe-sized hole in a brother’s bedroom door. I would prefer to only share the stories about how darling my children are, and how much they love each other. Those things are true … on certain days. On other days, the proverbial organic fertilizer hits the fan.
Sometimes I wish God’s instructions would be written on the wall for me. (See Daniel 5 for the wall-writing reference.) Trying to decide on the right punishment to fit the offense is one of the hardest things for me as a parent. I don’t share stories about my kids because I think I’m an awesome parent. Believe me, I screw up all the time and question myself way more often than I feel confident. I do know, however, that learning to accept responsibility for your actions is a huge part of becoming a mature adult. Proverbs 19:18 warns parents that if we fail to hold our kids accountable to their choices, then we are contributing to ruining their lives! Ouch. Verse 19 (NLT) goes on to say, “Hot-tempered people must pay the penalty. If you rescue them once, you will have to do it again.”
Let’s switch gears a sec. It’s easy for me to put myself in the discipline-giver seat, since I’m the parent in the above scenario. Yet, how many times have I been the discipline-recipient because of my own poor choices? I don’t go around kicking doors, but if there’s a genetic link to smart-aleckness, then my kids come by it honestly. My attitude can get the best of me, at times.
Deuteronomy 8:5 and Hebrews 12:4-11 remind us that the Lord disciplines us like a loving parent – not for punishment’s sake alone, but so that we’ll learn and grow from the experience. Discipline should bring about the “peaceful fruit of righteousness” in our lives (Heb. 12:11, ESV). As painful as it may be to accept, that goes for us grownups as well as kids. What might God be trying to teach you, even now?