Who I am

Daniel 6:12-13 And they went before the king, and spoke concerning the king’s decree: “Have you not signed a decree that every man who petitions any god or man within thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter.” So they answered and said before the king, “That Daniel, who is one of the captives from Judah, does not show due regard for you, O king, or for the decree that you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”

Can you sense the disdain in their words – “that Daniel”. At this point Daniel had been in a position of governmental authority for somewhere around 50 years. Yet they’ve identified him not by his accomplishments, but as one of the captives from Judah. It’s true that’s where Daniel came from. But God had worked in this man’s life mightily, and he wasn’t a teenage boy from a foreign land anymore. He was a man greatly gifted and used by God to help govern the affairs of the most powerful kingdom in the world. But the enemy who was trying to destroy him was also happy to humiliate him in the process.

We’ve all got a few skeletons in the closet from our old life. Before I became a new creation I was an old wretch. But those old things don’t define me. That might be where I came from but it’s not who I am. Only one thing defines me – Christ, Who is my life.

We can’t control what people think about us or what they say about us. But if we are walking with Jesus the testimony of that life will speak louder than anyone’s words.

When the fire has no power

Daniel 3:27 And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.

There was nothing shocking about these three men being thrown into the fire. It was just another means of execution. But even the king couldn’t help but notice how they walked in that fire and who walked with them.

The fact that the fire had no effect upon them drew the attention of those around them. And while these three men were inspected and their condition considered, God received the glory.

Daniel 3:28 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God!

When we go through life’s trials the same way the world does, it draws no attention and brings God no glory.

Some people bear the marks of the fire through the rest of their lives. They spend much time describing its heat and displaying their scars. And it is the fire that gets the glory.

Followers of Jesus are called to a different way. Even in our trials and suffering we are to set our mind on things above (Colossians 3:2)

The fire may be able to touch our outer man at times, but it can only touch our inner man to the extent we yield ourselves to it.

Consider how these three men conducted themselves and how this might apply to us and the fires we walk through:

Daniel 3:25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

They were not bound up and hindered and stifled in life because of the fire. They were not paralyzed or immobilized because of the fire. They weren’t damaged by the fire. They didn’t come out so traumatized that they were unable to even toast marshmallows again. And it was perceptible to all who looked on that they were not alone. The presence of Jesus in the fire with them was unmistakable.

It is never easy to go through a fiery trial, but if your life finds you in a particular furnace at the moment, don’t let it be wasted. Walk through that fire in such a way that when you come out on the other side, people will marvel at the gracious God who brought you through.

Ten times better

Daniel 1:20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.

A consecrated life increases your ability to receive what God desires to give and multiplies your effectiveness in the kingdom.

Not only were Daniel and his friends superior to the other captives who had received the same training as them, they were superior to the wisemen of Babylon who had spent their lives being immersed in and studying Babylonian history, literature, wisdom, etc.

Daniel and his friends had three years of training in these things. And in three years their level of wisdom and understanding was not equal to the Babylonian wise men, but was 10 times greater. The difference is consecration. It doesn’t just make you a little better. It brings an anointing that results in multiples of exceeding greatness of God through your life.

If I consider how this practically plays out in my life, I think about the times that I set the word of God before me yet within arm’s reach is a cell phone, and YouTube, and Facebook. I haven’t really consecrated that time for the Lord because as soon as that notification sound goes off, I will reach for the phone. If it were only an occasional thing perhaps I could excuse it. But it has become a habitual way of life for me. So it isn’t merely that these certain times aren’t consecrated — the life isn’t consecrated. How can this possibly continue to be acceptable?? There are things He wants to speak to me and impart into my life, but my refusal to crucify a flesh that cries to be entertained has kept me among the multitudes of the unknown and ineffective instead of ascending with the few who push the plate away.

Regarding Daniel and his friends, God moved mightily in them during this season of preparation, but things may have turned out very differently for them if they also had indulged in the king’s delicacies. Their decision to live in such a way as to honor God rather than satisfy themselves swung open the door wide for the power of God to work in their lives.

An undefiled life

Daniel 1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

We are told that Daniel continued in his position in Babylon for approximately 60 years, until the first year of Cyrus which means he was probably a teenager at the beginning of the book of Daniel. Yet even at so early an age, his desire to obey and please God overruled even his desire for a life of ease in Babylon.

This food that the captives were being provided would have been quality food, for it came from the king’s own table. But it almost certainly would have been offered to pagan deities and may have been animals considered unclean to an Israelite. It would have been so easy to just go along with the other captives and eat what was set before him. There were so many justifications, not the least of which was the fact that he was now basically a prisoner in a foreign land with no ability to direct the course of his own life any longer. What choice did he have?

But he wanted to live a life that was pure and holy before God, even if that meant depriving himself of the flesh pleasing delicacies that others enjoyed. But wouldn’t he lack? Wouldn’t his health suffer by so restrictive a diet? Did it really even require all that?

Don’t we ask similar questions of ourselves when the Holy Spirit begins touching on a part of our lives that is defiling us?

Other Christians are doing it. Why can’t I?

It isn’t a sinful thing, so what’s it hurting?

Doesn’t it seem a bit fanatical to lay this thing aside?

I have found that the Holy Spirit will have me lay something aside mainly for this one reason – it hinders intimacy with Jesus. Friend, if you have cried out to the Lord in your desire to draw near to Him, one inevitable outcome of such prayers is that you will become aware of things in your life that you will need to let go of to allow more room for Him.

Daniel didn’t know when he was making decisions to live in purity as a teenager that the Lord would elevate and prosper him in the kingdom the way He did. That wasn’t Daniel’s goal. He just wanted to live pure before God.

Oh that we would have that same heart and desire to cast away everything that defiles our life. We might actually see God do amazing things in our lives if our greatest desire was to be pleasing to Him.