Resolve to Live for God

Daniel 1:8-13

8 But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself. 9 Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials, 10 and the commander of the officials said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has appointed your food and your drink; for why should he see your faces looking more haggard than the youths who are your own age? Then you would make me forfeit my head to the king.” 11 But Daniel said to the overseer whom the commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king’s choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see.”

In the beginning of the book of Daniel we see that Judah was taken over by Nebuchadnezzar. He took the people of Judah into captivity and they were taken to Babylon. This had to be a strenuous time for God’s people. God’s people were now under the control of an earthly king that had no fear of God. This king did not respect Yahweh. Life as the Jews knew it was not going to be the same.

Nebuchadnezzar sent his chief of officials to find the best men. He was looking for men from the royal families. He wanted men that had no issues, were good looking, intelligent, had knowledge, and had the ability to serve in the royal court. Times were bleak and this might appear to be a great opportunity for these men. They would likely be suffering under the oppression of this king; however, these men would enjoy some luxuries.

There might be times when we things look bad but then we have something shiny waving in our faces. We might be tempted to take that shiny object because we are in a dark place. The problem is there might be a heavy price to pay for the object. We might think this will completely change our situation. What you have to remember is that it might not be from God.

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were among the chosen for the king. The king was going to provide them the best food and wine. They were to be trained for three years, and then they would enter the king’s personal service. They were even given new names. They were now called Belshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. These names were given to make them forget their God. These names had Babylonian idolatry meanings. Belshazzar means the keeper of hidden treasures of Bel. Shadrach means the inspiration of the sun. Meshach is of the goddess Shach. Abed-nego is the serpent of the shining fire.

These four young men have an opportunity to live like the king. They could eat what they wanted and have their choice of wine. It is coming at a cost though because they would be losing their identity in Christ. These four men chose to live for God. They resolved to do the right thing in the eyes of God. They decided they would not compromise their faith for what the world had to offer. We are tempted to take what the world says is great and glorious, but it might not be God’s plan. If the world says do something that is against God’s word we must have the resolve not to do it.

Daniel convinced the commander of the officials to not make them eat of the king’s food for ten days. This was a risky move for the commander because if Daniel and the others did not look the same as the others in the end, the commander would have been killed. The reason Daniel did not want to eat this food was because of what the food was. They knew that there would be food that was sinful to eat. He knew that there would be pork placed before them, which was forbidden by law. They were also afraid that there would be meat placed before them that were offered in sacrifices to idols. They wanted to live for God and chose not to put themselves in a situation where they would have to compromise their belief.

After ten days the four were healthier than the others. They did not compromise their beliefs in God and God was taking care of them. As time went on God gave them the knowledge they needed. They resolved to live for Yahweh and He provided for their needs.

Take away:

  1. Resolve to live for God no matter how bad your situation seems.
  2. Do not compromise your salvation for what the world has to offer.

Look for Opportunities to Share Christ

Acts 8:30-31

30 Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

Phillip was on his way back to Jerusalem. He had been out preaching the gospel to many Samaritan villages. Phillip had his own plan on how to get back to Jerusalem. God had another plan though and it was revealed through an angel of the Lord. The angel told Phillip to go down a desert road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.

Phillip is probably thinking I want to get back home. I have been gone for a while and it will be nice to be home for a little while. Phillip listened though. We go through life with our own plans each day, but God might have a better plan that day. God might be putting someone in your path that needs to hear the gospel. God might be putting someone in your path that is struggling.

As Phillip listened he came across a eunuch from Ethiopia. This eunuch was a court official for the Ethiopian queen. He had come to Jerusalem to worship. He was seeking God’s word. He was seeking what he was missing in life. Many people we come across everyday are doing the same thing. They are seeking God’s love and grace but do not understand what they are seeking or how to find it. They need someone to explain it to them.

God placed Phillip in the path of this eunuch for a reason. God might be placing someone in your path today that needs to hear the word of God. They might be seeking God and do not understand. The Spirit told Phillip to go join this chariot. When he got there, Phillip heard the eunuch reading from Isaiah. Phillip asked him if he understood. He asked how would I understand unless someone guides me.

We must be ready to help people understand the gospel. When we come across people in our lives that are struggling with the gospel we need to be able to explain it to them in a way that makes since. We lean on the Holy Spirit for guidance. You can also show scripture to that person in order to explain what salvation means.

We see the eunuch start asking questions about what he had read. Phillip is willing to answer the questions. Imagine if Phillip had said I do not have time to do this. Imagine if Phillip had said at least he is reading scripture. Phillip could have easily said I want to get home. I am tired and I do not have time for this. Phillip did not do this. He took the time to explain scripture to the eunuch. When he did this he proclaimed Jesus to a lost soul that was seeking God.

We then see that the eunuch accepted Christ. Phillip baptized the eunuch in a body of water that they came across. Phillip listened to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and it led him to a person that was seeking God. Through Phillip’s faithfulness an Ethiopian came to know Christ that afternoon.

Take away:

  1. God might be leading you to someone that needs to know Him. If this is the case follow God’s lead.

2.  Be ready to explain the gospel to anyone that is willing to listen and is seeking God.

Suffering Produces Hope

Romans 5:3-5

Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Paul is telling us to glory in our sufferings. We should take honor in our sufferings and have a thankful heart. We should be thanking God when we face hard times. This seems so opposite of what we are accustomed to. When we face hard times we do not think about thanking God. Some curse God, but most people at the very least start questioning God. Most people want to know why they are facing hard times and if it will end. Paul is telling us to not do that because our sufferings will bring hope in the end.

Think about the last time you were suffering. You might be facing a situation right now that is causing major suffering and heartache in your life. I would almost bet that your first thought was not praise, but it should be. We as humans have emotions that get in our way. We get angry, sad, upset, distressed, or wounded.

As we face sufferings God is going to be working with us and through us. Our patience is going to be tested. There is a saying that God will not give you more than you can handle. Well that is not always true. God will give you more than you can handle. You are going to be tested to the max. You are going to have times where you are not sure how you will survive. God wants you to fully trust in Him. He is building your patience. When you fully trust in Him you are going to persevere.

This perseverance will help develop your character. When you face a hardship you have two choices. The first choice is to suffer. When you suffer your character will show. You will become irritable, grouchy, stressed, you might withdraw from people. The people closest to you will notice your behavior and actions. Your other option is to rejoice in your hardships. Your character will be completely opposite. People will also take notice to your actions. Many times people know you are struggling and they will be surprised at the way you are behaving. Your character will be wonderful.

When our character is based on rejoicing and trusting in God we will have hope. In the book of Job we see Job mention in 23:10 that when he is tested he will come out refined like gold. When we suffer God is taking us through a process in order to refine us. Knowing that God is there with us all the time is enough to provide hope and encouragement.

We can be assured that this hope will not disappoint us. God does not want us to be ashamed of our suffering or be disappointed. He wants us to have full dependence on Him. We need to be so in tune with God that we know what He is doing. We need to always keep our eyes focused on Him. When we face hard times if we are focused on Him we will be prepared to persevere.

Take away:

  1. Sufferings will come and you have two choices. You can curse God or place your trust in Him and give Him glory.
  2. Our suffering is a refining process that God is putting us through.
  3. Our hope in the good times and bad times comes from trusting in God’s plan.