This week we looked at how we can stand strong in the face of adversity – Staying faithful, even in a hostile environment. (If you missed Session I, you can review the material here. Also, to read previous blogs from Session II, click here)
(10) and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” (11) Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, (12) “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. (13) Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” (14) So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. (15) At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. (16) So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.
So, even though they had favor, Ashpenaz was nervous. He was in charge of making sure these exiles were taken care of and prepared for what the king had in mind for them. If King Nebuchadnezzar saw that these boys were looking sickly, or in any way different than the others. Remember we said Nebuchadnezzar was unstable? He knew the King would have his head. He’d be dead.
So, he says no. Now remember, Daniel had resolved not to defile himself. So he’s not done trying. He believes he’s following God and so God is going to make a way for him to be able to honor him.
So now he’s going to ask the guy under Ashpenaz. He says, hey man let’s do a test. Just do this for 10 days. Just do a pilot program on this, and if it doesn’t work we can scrap the whole thing. Let me and my 3 friends eat veggies and water for 10 days. You be the judge based on what we look like. And you know the story, at the end of 10 days they were actually looking better than the ones that were eating the king’s food. So they make a good decision. God gives them favor. And things work out great for them.
Also, note in this passage that for 10 days they eat vegetables. This is where we get the Daniel Fast, that we do every January here at Rock Church.
Fasting is an extremely powerful tool God has given his people. And something we’re going to learn about Daniel. And one of the secrets of his success was that he was a man of prayer. And he also had important periods of his life where that prayer was accompanied by fasting. We are going to do an in-depth teaching on fasting when we get to chapter 10. Fasting is meant to be a part of our spiritual life and so we will make sure we spend some good time exploring it.
Let’s go ahead and finish up chapter 1. Let’s look at verses 17-21 to see the result of Daniel’s great decision
Verses 17-21 reads
(17) As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. (18) At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. (19) And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. (20) And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. (21) And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus.
So here we have it. The power of a good decision. It’s interesting to note that the children of Israel were in captivity as a result as a consequence of a series of bad decisions, but now Daniel and his friends are distinguished and esteemed at a higher level than the others as a result of their good decisions.
Remember, they are in Babylonian basic training for 3 years. So for three years these guys have stayed loyal and true to God. They did the Daniel fast indefinitely! And look at God’s response.
Now it wasn’t that their works earned them something with God. It’s that, their heart to follow him and do the right thing in an adverse situation blessed his heart.
You know how it is. When you see your kids doing the right thing without any direct pressure from you. It blesses your heart and you want to bless them. So God blesses them. It says He gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom.
And then Daniel, who we read later on is greatly loved by God, because of his heart after God – It says that God gives him understanding in all visions and dreams.
This is a gift from the Holy Spirit. And God gives it to him as a blessing to him personally, but God’s gifts are meant to bless others. And so we will see in chapter 2. God has a reason and a purpose for putting this gift inside Daniel.
And so when the final exam comes, after these three years. And the final exam is pretty scary, because it is an interview with King Nebuchadnezzar. Now as we’re going to see, the king doesn’t impress very easily. But when he sits down with these 3 Hebrew boys he is blown away. They are found to be 10 x’s better than all the others. And this one good decision of moral courage Daniel and his friends made, lead to a chain of events that still impact us to this day.
The power of a good decision. Decisions are the vehicle God gives us to get from where we are to where he wants us to be. If we are in a bad place today, God has given us the power to start making decisions. One good decision at a time. And as we make those good decisions, things may get hairy at times, but if we will stand firm and trust God, we’ll come out on top, and we’ll see things turn around.
And if we stay faithful, even when the environment appears to be hostile, we are going to be alright, amen?
Now as we finish up with this session, I want to end with a word of encouragement.
Earlier we talked about how the Babylonians wanted to call the Hebrew children by basically, the devil’s name.
And as I referred to earlier, the devil is the accuser of the brethren. The accuser of the believers. And if you’re like most people, you have to battle things you believe about yourself that God says isn’t true.
I’m less than because I don’t make a lot of money
I’m less than because I’m too skinny
I’m less than because I’m too fat
Or whatever other garbage he can spew. But it only works if we agree with it. He says “you’re stupid” But do you agree and make it your own? Do you say to yourself, “I’m stupid”?
Well the good news is that you can renew your mind in this area. And the way you renew your mind is to begin to make an effort to only accept what God says about you.
To that end, a guy by the name of Neil T. Anderson has put together a great list of things the Bible say are true of you if you are a follower of Christ.
When we became Christians, we had a full blown identity change and the link and list shown below is true of us
I am sharing it below so you can refer to it often, especially if you struggle with a lot of self-loathing type issues. Read this over and over again. Click on the Scripture references and meditate on them. Hit this hard until you make it your own! (I’ve also included a link to Neil Anderson’s website here)
If you are a Christian, then the statements below are true of you. If you are not a follower of Christ and would like to know more, click here…
I am accepted…
John 1:12 I am God’s child.
John 15:15 As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1 I have been justified.
1 Corinthians 6:17 I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I have been bought with a price and I belong to God.
1 Corinthians 12:27 I am a member of Christ’s body.
Ephesians 1:3-8 I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child.
Colossians 1:13-14 I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.
Colossians 2:9-10 I am complete in Christ.
Hebrews 4:14-16 I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ.
I am secure…
Romans 8:1-2 I am free from condemnation.
Romans 8:28 I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances.
Romans 8:31-39 I am free from any condemnation brought against me and I cannot be separated from the love of God.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 I have been established, anointed and sealed by God.
Colossians 3:1-4 I am hidden with Christ in God.
Philippians 1:6 I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me.
Philippians 3:20 I am a citizen of heaven.
2 Timothy 1:7 I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.
1 John 5:18 I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me.
I am significant…
John 15:5 I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life.
John 15:16 I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit.
1 Corinthians 3:16 I am God’s temple.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 I am a minister of reconciliation for God.
Ephesians 2:6 I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm.
Ephesians 2:10 I am God’s workmanship.
Ephesians 3:12 I may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.
With that, let me just say
I pray you believe about yourself everything that God says about you, and nothing about yourself that God says is not true about you!
Fuel is a weekly Bible Study that meets Thursday nights at 6:30 @ RockChurch – 1081, Upper Spring Bay Rd. East Peoria