2020; it was the sound of silence; a stilled pen. I began the year with three words on my heart: Righteousness, Peace; and Joy. Based on:
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.” Romans 14:17 CSB
The year had barely begun when we began hear rumblings of a “Novel Corona Virus” later referred to as Covid-19. On top of a virus spreading around the world about which we knew very little, it was also an election year in America. One or the other alone was bound to cause concern, curiosity, fear, anger and a number of emotions. Combined and add in the polarization already existing between those who agreed with and respected the current President and those who had no like or respect for him; the margin was narrow of those who saw that he had indeed done some good for the country but also knew that in other areas his behavior and attitudes could tamed to be less inflammatory to those who had little regard for him. One year felt more like three! Also, many found themselves anything but peaceful or joyful. Fear caused many to behave any way but righteously.
Fast forward, elections are over. A winner declared and chaos at the capital ensues purportedly by some of the supporters of the out-going President. Some insist on impeachment; others insist with only days until inauguration, it is foolish. America is a house divided! Fear and anger is running rampant and tensions are high. There is strife within households and between friends and this is why my pen is no longer silent.
America has long been known for its faith in God and for sending missionaries out into other parts of the world proclaiming the Gospel to other nations. Perhaps we need a refresher right here in our own nation…
I have been thinking about Daniel for a while now. It is thought that Daniel was a teenage boy; perhaps late teens when he was taken captive and to Babylon. He and his three friends were Hebrew and believed in the one true God of their fathers. Though they were in a new culture, learning a new language and given new names from that culture; they remained faithful to their religion and their culture. They are described in Daniel 1 as:
“from nobility; young men; without physical defect; good looking; suitable for instruction in all wisdom, knowledgeable, perceptive, and capable of serving in the king’s palace.’ Daniel 1;3-7 They were to be trained in the language and trained to be inservice to the king; eating and drinking from the king’s table.
We are lead to believe that these young men were cooperative in every way possible with the exception that they very respectfully requested to be allowed to continue to eat their current diet that met with the parameters of God’s instruction for them in order not to defile themselves. They agreed to a ten day trial which proved their diet superior to what the other young men were eating.
They chose cooperation with their captors, respect, and obedience to those in authority over them in all areas except where it would cause them to be disobedient or disrespectful to God. They remained faithful to their beliefs and to God and God honored their obedience. Eventually they had greater tests of obedience and had to choose between God or man. Each time they choose obedience to God. When instructed to bow to the kings idol, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego responded:
““King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18 CSB
When faced with instructions to no longer pray to his God, Daniel refused and accepted his punishment. Having experienced God’s provision for the other young men, the king said to Daniel:
“May your God, whom you continually serve, rescue you!” Daniel 6:16 CSB
They all understood that God could choose to deliver them in their situation, thru their situation, or from their situation.
They accepted the risk of their obedience knowing God was still in control; they believed no matter what happened they could trust Him. The first three trusted God and walked away from the fire not smelling of smoke. Daniel slept with hungry lions and walked away without a single scratch. We would do well to do the same.
What can we learn?
1. gratitude- we aren’t captives in a foreign land under foreign rule
2. remain faithful, act accordingly (do right) and trust God
3. believe- if struggling, pray about our unbelief
4. be kind, caring, compassionate, empathetic, respectful to those around us; even when we may not agree
5. pray- keep praying: asking, seeking, knocking
6. seek God’s will; His best- He sees the big plan (His Kingdom)
“May the name of God be praised forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to him. He changes the times and seasons; he removes kings and establishes kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals the deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him. I offer thanks and praise to you, God of my ancestors, because You have given me wisdom and power. And now You have let me know what we asked of You, for You have let us know the king’s mystery.” Daniel 2:20-23 CSB
“At the first light of dawn the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he reached the den, he cried out in anguish to Daniel. “Daniel, servant of the living God,” the king said, “has your God, whom you continually serve, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Then Daniel spoke with the king: “May the king live forever. My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths; and they haven’t harmed me, for I was found innocent before Him. And also before you, Your Majesty, I have not done harm.” Daniel 6: 19-21 CSB
“Then King Darius wrote to those of every people, nation, and language who live on the whole earth: “May your prosperity abound. I issue a decree that in all my royal dominion, people must tremble in fear before the God of Daniel: for He is the living God, and He endures forever; His kingdom will never be destroyed, and His dominion has no end. He rescues and delivers; He performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth, for He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” Daniel 6: 25-27 CSB
Believers, will we choose to believe, trust, do right; or will we worry, fret, fight each other trying to prove who is right and wrong? AND: will we trust God, His sovereignty; that His ways and thoughts are higher than ours and that ultimately, His will must prevail.
“The Lord bless you and keep you,
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”
Numbers 6: 24-26 NKJV
Grace and peace to you!