Discretion and Discernment

Then Daniel replied with discretion and discernment to Arioch, the captain of the king’s bodyguard, who had gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon; Daniel 2:14

In the first chapter of Daniel we saw that Jerusalem had been taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar. Things were really bad for God’s people. The king had taken in some of the brightest young men to train for his personal service. Daniel and three of his friends were chosen. They made the decision that they would live for God. They made the best of this situation with the king while not compromising their belief in Yahweh.

God protected them and guided their footsteps. We even see that God blessed them with wisdom and knowledge. God had a plan and He was preparing them for what was to come. We are told this because the writer makes it clear that Daniel could understand visions and dreams.

As we move into chapter two we see that Nebuchadnezzar was troubled and was even losing sleep. This was due to dreams that he was having. The king calls in all of the magicians, conjurers, and sorcerers to interpret this dream. The king thinks that these people are going to be able to interpret a dream that was from God. As it turns out they were not able to do this. When looking for godly answers we cannot look to someone that does not believe in Yahweh.

The king becomes upset and tells them what will happen if they do or do not interpret this dream. He tells them that they will receive gifts if the dream is interpreted. He also made it clear that they would be torn from limb to limb if they did not interpret the dream properly. After some time went by they told the king that there was no man on earth that could interpret this dream properly. They were looking at a problem of God in a worldly perspective. So the king put out a decree to kill all of the wise men, including Daniel and his friends.

Things looked extremely bad for Daniel. When the king’s men found Daniel he was going to be killed. It was just a matter of time before Daniel was found since he was part of the king’s service. Since Daniel was wise he used discretion and discernment when Arioch found him. This likely saved his life. Odds are we are not going to face a situation like this; However, we are going to face times were we have to use discretion and discernment.

Discretion is behaving in a way that avoids causing conflict. Daniel knew what to say when he was approached by Arioch. He did not become belligerent with Arioch. He cordially requested time with the king. He knew that God had given him the ability to interpret dreams. He knew that God had prepared him for this moment.

When we are put in situations in life that seems tricky we have to use discretion. We have to know what to say without causing offense. We have to know how to act and react. Your actions and thoughts when you react can make the difference in how a situation is handled. If you act in an offensive way the situation is going to have a different outcome then if you handle it with discretion.

We also see that David used discernment. Discernment is the ability to judge when and how to respond. It is not enough to know what to say or how to respond, you also have to know when the time is right. When handling situations timing is crucial. Discernment also involves knowing if you should respond in a situation. There are plenty of times where we have got involved in situations that we should not have because it did not involve us.

Discretion and discernment comes over time. It is not something that we are born with. As time went on God gave Daniel and his comrades the knowledge they needed. This knowledge led to Daniel being able to respond in an appropriate way and with sound judgment.

Take away:

  1. When facing situations make sure you use discretion and respond in a way that does not cause offense, rather respond in a way that honors God.
  2. Discernment will allow us to judge others and situations well.
  3. Discretion and discernment come from knowledge that is given by God.

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.

 

Love Everyone

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:43-48

The Lord has commanded us to love our neighbor. We are taught that we should love our neighbor. This includes everyone and not just who we choose to love. The world for thousands of years has perverted this law to fit human thought. We have taken the law and changed it to say what God never intended for it to say. We have added that it is ok to hate your enemy. When God said to love your neighbor, He did not give a conjunction. He did not say love your neighbor if. He did not say love your neighbor but. God was saying that we are to love our neighbor unconditionally.

When you look at the definition of enemy it is a person who is actively opposed to someone. As we look around we can see many people that are opposed to someone else. We have seen many people who are opposed to the current political leaders. We have also seen people who are opposed to those people. By this definition many people have created enemies. There have been hateful things said by many people just because they do not agree with someone. Many people who have said these things that are very critical are people who have God in their hearts.

Jesus is telling us to love our enemy. This is so counterculture as we are so accustomed to hating those that oppose. Most people are going to say they do not hate, but are you really showing love if you are making comments that are glorifying to God? Instead of spending time criticizing others because their views are opposite, we should concentrate on listening to the views of others. It is time we have a serious dialogue on many issues in America. We have several issues that have divided us as a country. These issues have caused division because of opposing views. When we listen to each other and open our hearts we are going to have a better appreciation for our neighbor. When we appreciate people we are going to start loving each other.

God also says to pray for those that persecute you. We see that Jesus prayed for those that persecuted Him. When we pray for those that persecute us we are living out an example of Christ. We must pray that God will forgive them. We also must pray that if we have done something to them that God will reveal it to us so that we can seek forgiveness. We also should pray that peace is restored between the two parties.

We are too strive to love like God did. We are to love everyone. Part of loving your enemy is to forgive people. It is God’s nature to forgive. When we have a wrong done to us we should not seek revenge but forgive. This is hard but we will have peace in our hearts. We also show love by showing hospitality to strangers. We also show love by doing good to ungrateful evildoers. We also show God’s love by not responding negatively online when we see something we do not agree with. God’s love will only be shown when we strive to see everyone through the eyes of God.

MAGA

Remember that as Trump takes office it will not be him that makes America great. There are a few reasons for this. The first reason is that we are already a great county. We must not forget this. If we forget that we are already great we will loose this. 

Second we as citizens must work to keep our county great. We will more impact on our communities then Trump will. I keep hearing about what Trump will do for the innner cities. Well it will be up to the inner cities to change their communities. 

Communities are changed by the people that reside and work in the communities. They must be willing to bring change for the better. Nothing will change if the people of the community will not change. 

Last America will stay great if we continue to love each other. When we love each other we will support our brothers and sisters. This will help heal the divide in our country. 

America is the greatest country. Let’s work to keep it that way. It is not Trump’s responsibility, it the responsibility of every citizen. 

Inauguration Day

Well in less than 24 hours America officially receives a new president. This is a sad day for some while others are excited. I am just excited that we live in a country where there is a peaceful transition of power. 

Donald Trump is a man and therefore will have his faults. We must remember this because there will be mistakes. Trump just like every president before him will make bad, good, and great decisions. We will not always agree with everything that is done. We must move past our differences if we want to keep America moving forward. 

As Trump takes office we need to make every effort to pray for him and his family. We should pray for those that will be in cabinet level positions. We need to pray for those that oppose his decisions. Opposition is good but should never be done because you do not like the other party. We need to pray for God’s guidance and will to be done. 

We must also continue praying for President Obama and his family. This transition will be a time of change for his family. We need to pray for God’s guidance on his life as well. I wish President Obama and First Lady the best in their future endeavors. 

Instead of complaining about Trump we need to give him a fair chance. We need to allow him the opportunity to do what is right. If we are ever going to rise above the division in this country we must learn to work with both sides of the aisle. We have to learn to work on bipartisan support. We have to work on what’s best for America and not what’s best for the next politician trying to be the next president. 

Running On Empty 

How is your week going? Are you starting this Wednesday ready to go? Or, are you already running on empty? We pack so much into our days that we become overwhelmed and we are constantly running on empty. 

When we are empty we not functioning fully the way God designed us to do. Our bodies need rest. We also need to spend time with God and let Him rejuvenate our souls. In Matthew 11 Jesus tells us if we are burdened to come to Him. He says that if we come to Him we will have rest. 

If you find yourself running low on caffeine and energy this morning spend five minutes with God in prayer. Start by praising Him and thanking Him. Then pray for what is burdening your heart. See if this helps fill your soul this morning. 

Love vs. Hate

“I have decided to stick with love…hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In honor of MLK day on January 16, 2017 I decided to use a quote from Dr. King to write this devotional. This is a devotional for a men’s prayer group that meets on Tuesday morning. There is so much truth in this quote. This quote speaks volumes about where our heart should be when it comes to how we treat each other.

1 John 4:7-13

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.

Love comes from God. We are told in many places that we are to love one another. The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor. Paul tells the church in Thessalonica that he should not have to write them because God himself tells us to love one another. If we know God and are born of God then we should love. We are told that if we truly love then we are born of God.

Likewise we are told that if you do not know God then you are not able to love. God is love and we must know Him in order to truly love. We cannot give away something that we do not have. If we do not have God in us then we cannot love, because we do not have love.

We also see that God loved us that He sent His son to die for us. He gave His only son as a sacrifice for our sins. This was done so that we might live through Jesus. God did not do this because we loved Him. He did this because He loves us that much. He did this even though we were still sinners.

We are told that God is love. He loves us. We are able to live through the sacrifice that was made through Jesus because of God’s love. Therefore we should love one another. It is a cause and effect. The cause is God loves us and the effect is that we love each other. If we love one another then God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.

Hate

1 John 2:9,11

The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

When you say that you have God then that means that you have love inside you. This love should be seen by everyone that you meet, but this cannot be so if you hate your brother. If you have hatred in your heart then you do not have room for God. God and hate cannot exist.

When you hate you have taken your eyes off of God. You are no longer focused on what God is doing around you. You are no longer walking in light. You are now walking in darkness without God.

Are you loving as God says?

  1. Love God then love your neighbor.
  2. Do not hate those that have difference of opinions then you do.
  3. Have love and compassion for the oppressed.
  4. Love everyone enough that you are willing to share God with them.

New Year = New Resolve for God 

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy
sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
2 And do not be
conformed to this [c]world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you
may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans  12:1-2

This year instead of making a new year’s resolution that we will forget in the first week, let’s do
something for God. We should begin this year more focused on God than ever before. We can
never go wrong putting our focus on doing what God says.  

The first thing we are told in this chapter is to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. When the
Jews presented sacrifices they chose the best of their flock to be presented to God. This was done
as atonement for their sins. The sacrifices were wholly God’s. We need to present our bodies to
God as being entirely His. We do this by living for God.

When a sacrifice was made to God it was done without blemish so that it was acceptable to Him.
When we present ourselves as a living sacrifice it should be done without blemish. Obviously we
cannot be perfect since we are human, but we should strive to be the best we can. We have to
constantly strive to be like Jesus. When we give our lives to God we are to strive to be the best
that we can.  

God is saying do not be conformed to the world. When we conform to the world we are acting in
accordance to prevailing standards and attitudes of the world. We cannot give into the world, but
we should live for God. When we are living for God we are going to show the world what God
can do for them. Instead of complaining about what is going on in the world lets be a light for
God this year. Instead of complaining about the condition of the world, let’s do something about
it. Jesus was very radical in His thoughts and the way He acted. Instead of being like the world
we should be radical and live like Jesus.  

We also need to start this year out with a renewed mind. We are not who we once were. We
know that old things have passed away and have become new. If we have had things in the past
year that have distracted us from God, we need to give it to God. We might need to seek forgiveness from God. We might need to make amends with someone we have hurt. With a
renewed and fresh mind we can put our focus on what God wants to do in our lives.  

With a renewed mind you are able to prove the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God. We
must seek God’s will for our lives. No matter what we want to do with our life, it will never compare to what God wants to do in our life, unless it matches God’s will. We need to pray that
God has His will in our lives each day because His will is perfect.  

Here is a list of four things that we must resolve to do this year

 1. Live for God and not self.

2. Live like Jesus and do not conform to the things of the world that go against His word.

3. Renew you mind and focus on God.

4. Seek God’s will in your life.

If we do these things we are going become closer to God. We are going to be able to be used by
God in ways that we cannot imagine. If we as a local church do this collectively there is no
telling what God will do. Now imagine if every child of God strives to be better at these four  things.