There comes a time in our lives when we find we are no longer surrounded by parents, school, and the freedoms we knew when we were young. We are forced to take on the responsibility of standing on our own two feet as we encounter parenthood forcing us to provide our ourselves and our family. This level of responsibility can bring with it a measure of fear, and we may even wonder how we can cope under this level of pressure.
It is troubling to see many who encounter these crossroads and no longer find the time for their spiritual life and wellbeing. They no longer have time for church and its ministries and are too focused on their own needs while they fail to find the time for anything or anyone. Unfortunately in the end, some even fall away from God after having compromised with the world. With all our responsibility we can still have a strong spiritual life and the favor of God if we remain consistent in our relationship with Him, His word and His principles.
The prophet Daniel is a Bible example. He was born and raised during King Josiah's reform in 2 Kings 22 and 23. During his childhood there he also had opportunity to hear the sermons of the prophet Jeremiah, whom he quoted in Daniel 9:2 when he said, "In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem."
In 609 B.C. King Josiah was killed in a battle against Egypt and unfortunately after his powerful reform, four years following his death the southern kingdom returned to iniquity and idolatry. In 605 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar became the king of Babylon and in the same year he conquered Palestine, besieged Jerusalem, and Judea became a part of his kingdom.
"In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it." (Daniel 1:1)
I believe that there are times when God allows His work to go through a crisis. In this case, for example, the Babylonians entered His temple and took items from it and placed them in the temple for their god in Babylon.
"And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god." (Daniel 1:2)
All those who loved the Lord surely felt very discouraged by this, just as we often feel discouraged and disappointed when our church goes through times of crisis; whether church splits, spiritual and financial crises or scandals.
Sometimes we know the reason why some things happen and other times we don't, but what is important to know is that we need to keep believing that God has everything under control and He cares for those who believe in Him.
1. REGARDLESS OF OUR SITUATION IN THIS FALLEN WORLD OF SUFFERING AND INJUSTICE, GOD WANTS US TO VIEW OURSELVES AS VICTORS, NOT VICTIMS.
The Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." (Romans 8:37)
How could these simply be just words when just before he said, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [Shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: 'For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.' Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." (Romans 8:35-37)
God can give us victory and favor in a world of compromise! This is why we do not need to pull away from the world or from Christ and His Body - we need to remain faithful to Him and He will surely use Us for His glory.
In these times of transition we need to remain faithful to the Lord and continue serving. We must refuse to view ourselves as victims that never will be able to accomplish anything. Take this chance that God has given you to bring glory to His name.
Napoleon Bonaparte once said, "He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat." And this is true in a sense.
If we view ourselves as a victim we will cease to grow in every respect. We will cease praying, attending church, working, serving the Lord, educating ourselves, and investing in our lives as we say to ourselves that in the end it doesn't matter. But God cannot use us when we think this way and we will not be able to achieve our potential, the plan God has for our lives.
When the Babylonian kingdom expanded there was a lack of well-educated people needed to lead. So King Nebuchadnezzar sought people from other nations, and in this case he found a couple of young men among God's people.
The Word tells us that they were, "young men in whom [there was] no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who [had] ability to serve in the king's palace." (Daniel 1:4)
They were ready. They invested in themselves spiritually and intellectually. They were not lazy believers, rather faithful and caring people. The Word tells us that they were without blemish. The Hebrew Word for "blemish" is mum meaning physical or moral imperfection. We know that it is expected of us that when Jesus comes again we be without spot or wrinkle.
It goes on to say, "gifted in all wisdom". The Hebrew word for gifted is sakhai which means studious, to operate diligently, to be an expert, successful, godly. "In all wisdom" in the Hebrew is chokmah, meaning wisdom, knowledge, experience, reasoning. It is always used in a positive context. It can also be used in the sense of military strategy, diplomacy, and practical spirituality.
"...possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who [had] ability to serve in the king's palace." (Daniel 1:4)
When I was in New York I saw Orthodox Jews with their families and was very surprised to see that they were always together. They are very family-oriented people. I have been told that it is rare to find one illiterate and lazy among them. They often have good careers and are very educated; they are blessed in many aspects of their lives.
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were not victims of society. They were not lazy Christians, but were chosen by the king because of their dedication to the Lord and discipline. In the end, God had everything under control.
Regardless of what we see in this fallen society, we can succeed. We need to be an example to those around us. The Word tells us, "whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31b)
Is your life and all you do dedicated to Him, or have you given him only a part? These four men not only lived in slavery and not only was their church destroyed, but their names were changed.
"To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel [the name] Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego." (Daniel 1:7)
Nebuchadnezzar changed their names because he wanted them to become more Babylonian. He wanted to assimilate them as much as possible into his culture. Daniel, which means "God is my judge" became Belteshazzar "Bal guards his life". Bal was the main Babylonian god. Hananiah meant "God has favored", while Shadrach meant "under the leadership of Akua". Akua was the moon god. Mishael. meaning "Who is like God" was changed to Meshach, which means "who is like Aku" and Azariah, which means "the Lord has helped", was changed to Abed-Nego, meaning "servant of Nego" - the god of writing and learnin
2. WHEN UNDER PRESSURE, REFUSE TO COMPROMISE BY CHOOSING AHEAD OF TIME NOT TO SIN.
While we may endure mockery or the loss of a job, in that day there was very little tolerance and people lost their lives over the slightest disobedience.
The Word says, "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself." (Daniel 1:8)
The moral climate in Babylon was completely pagan and surely Daniel and his friends often encountered things that diametrically opposed God's law and righteous principles.
The Word tells us that Daniel purposed in his heart ahead of time not to defile himself. The Hebrew word for "purpose" is sum or sim, meaning established, elevate, decide, appoint. The basic meaning is to set aside something for a special purpose.
In other words, Daniel decided - appointed - that things would be as they ought. He didn't wait until the trial was before him to make a decision.
"To decide" or "to purpose" are equally powerful statements that point to surrendering to a certain principle or deed.
Daniel did not want to eat the food of the king's table, likely because it had been sacrificed to idols or was unclean food, which would have violated the Jewish law. He knew that acceptance of the king's food and drink could mean a later dependence upon his gifts and favor.
This is why we see that while Daniel found himself in a culture that did not worship God, he continued to keep God's law because he purposed in his own heart not to compromise so as not to contaminate himself, which indicates to us the depth of his surrender to doing that which is right and his refusal to bow under pressure.
Sometimes we bend under pressure and compromise our standards by living like the world around us. It is not enough to want God's will or to desire to stand in the face of trials, we must purpose in our hearts, as Daniel did, to be obedient to God.
It is easier to resist temptation and sin if we are determined to resist it before it comes. This is why we find ourselves in uncomfortable situations when we failed to draw the line.
Obedience is more valuable than any sacrifice we give to God!
When the apostles were dragged to the council, they said, "And when they had brought them, they set [them] before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, 'Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.' Then Peter and the [other] apostles answered and said, 'We ought to obey God rather than men.'" (Acts 5:27-29)
Someone once said, "The price of obedience is small in comparison to the price of disobedience."
3. WE MUST ASK OURSELVES IF IT IS WORTH IT ALL.
It is worth it to keep God's principles and standards. But is it worth it to remain consistent in what we believe even when it seems that there is nothing to gain by it?
It's not easy, but it is worth it because it is the only way we will come out victors and receive God's favor in a world of compromise.
"Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs." (Daniel 1:9)
Now we see God's work in changing the heart of the Babylonian eunuchs. The powerful, moral conviction of those four young men had influenced the others. God promised to be with His people in times of trouble and temptation. They knew this and firmly held on to this promise
"He made them also to be pitied of all those that carried them captives." (Psalm 106:46)
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it]." (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Most often God intervenes when we stand firm in Him.
When we do this He will give us favor in the workplace, school, with our director, employer; in whatever situation we find ourselves in.
Daniel told the court's servant: "Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink." (Daniel 1:12)
The Babylonians wanted to change their way of thinking by giving them a Babylonian education; they wanted to shift their loyalty by giving them Babylonian names and their lifestyle by changing their diet, but Daniel found a way to live by God's standards without compromising in a culture that did not honor the Lord.
God gave Him a way of escape that saved his life and the life of his friends.
It always pays to stand with God because God will never leave us or forsake us, even though others may do so. The obedient will gain an understanding of God that those who are filled with knowledge do not have. He will always reveal to them more wisdom than theologians and highly educated people.
"As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. And in all matters of wisdom [and] understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians [and] astrologers that [were] in all his realm." (Daniel 1:17, 20)
Therefore, do not turn away from church, prayer, reading your Bible, or church services; do not compromise but stand firm in Him in times of change and He will reward you. Remain faithful, be strong, do not be a victim but be a victor because God gives us favor in a world of compromise.
Do no fear success. C.S. Lewis once said, "It is not your business to succeed, but to do right: when you have done right, the rest lies with God."