Because of your prayers

Daniel 10:10-12  10 Suddenly, a hand touched me and raised me to my hands and knees. 11 He said to me, “Daniel, you are a man treasured by God. Understand the words that I’m saying to you. Stand on your feet, for I have now been sent to you.” After he said this to me, I stood trembling. 12 “Don’t be afraid, Daniel,” he said to me, “for from the first day that you purposed to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your prayers were heard. I have come because of your prayers. 

Daniel was a praying man.  When he had a problem, he prayed.  When he needed God’s view, he prayed.  When things were going great, he prayed.  Yes, Daniel was a praying man.  He is the type of man I want to be.  His focus is both inspiring and challenging.  Nothing stood in the way of his prayer life.  When James writes that the prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective, he might have been thinking of Daniel.  This guy had some pretty effective prayers!  He prayed and an angel showed up to answer him.

Do we need an angel to show up and scare us half to death to know that God is hearing our prayers?  You see, the evidence of our prayers isn’t always going to be seen.  God is always working, always moving, always hearing.  Because of your prayers, things are happening in the heavenly realm that you can’t even see.   Yet we don’t have a commitment like Daniel because we are so results driven.  If we can’t see it, we believe nothing is happening.  It’s simply not true!  God is hearing and God is answering all the time.  

So pray.  Pray when you want to and pray when you don’t feel like it.  Pray when you are high on life and pray when you are discouraged.  Pray for yourself and pray for others.  Pray with big fancy Bible words or pray in plain English.  Pray what it says in scripture or pray what it says in your heart.  Just pray.  Because of your prayers, the kingdom of God is advancing.  Because of your prayers, the KING is answering!

That freaked me out

Daniel 7:28 “This is the end of the interpretation. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts terrified me greatly, and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself.” 

For context on today’s entry, you really should read the entire chapter of Daniel 7.  It is a vision that God gave Daniel regarding the end times.  There were crazy looking beasts, the Lord on the throne, fire, talking horns, and all kinds of other crazy stuff.  Thankfully, Daniel had the guts to ask the Lord the meaning of this vision.  Otherwise, we would still be speculating today.  It was a lot to handle, a lot to see.  And Daniel ends his recount of it by saying, “that freaked me out.”

Do the things of God ever freak you out?  If so, you are not alone.  You see, God is extremely “other.”  That’s really the best way I can put it.  He is not a human with a human brain – he made the human and the human brain.  And He is not entirely known by us.  He is in many ways a mystery: unseen and untouchable.  If our life is a bucket of water, He is the ocean.  He is huge, vast, deep, and exists beyond the horizon.

Not only does His very Being freak us out a little, so do the things He shows us or asks us to do.  He asks us to take steps of faith, to believe in miracles, to seek the power of the Holy Spirit. And it all gets a little freaky as it goes beyond our control.  It gets a little scary when our minds can’t comprehend it.  But that’s our God.  He is my Savior and my Lord.  He is larger than any problem I will ever face.  His grace runs deeper than my sin and His forgiveness is like a well that never runs out.  He is beyond me; He freaks me out.  Yet I throw my whole life into Him and trust Him with everything I’ve got.  Will you do the same today?

Be Like Mike

Daniel 6:5 Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.” 

Daniel was a man above reproach. He did no evil, nor did he find himself in the grey area of the appearance of evil.  He was an upstanding man in whom no one could find fault.  So when the jealous royal dudes tried to do him in, they had a hard time with it.  They said to each other, “we will never find a way to file charges against Daniel.”  So they made up a bogus law and had him thrown in a den of lions. (Sorry about the use of “dudes” and “bogus.”  This feels like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure so far.)

Most of us know the rest of the story:  Daniel prays and by doing so, violates the ridiculous law that people could only worship the king.  So he gets thrown in with some lions who don’t eat him, thanks to the Lord.  The king was a nervous wreck the whole time and was relieved that God saved Daniel.  Then he threw the accusers and their families in with the lions who ravenously destroyed them.  You know, classic Bible story stuff.

The takeaway for me from this whole soap opera isn’t necessarily that God rescued Daniel.  I so knew that He was going to do that; that’s just how God rolls.   No, what really stands out is the fact that these guys couldn’t find anything against Daniel.  Could that be said about me?  Let me rephrase that: that couldn’t be said about me.  But I want it to be.  I want to be someone who is so above reproach in that I could never be accused of something wrong.  So I must pursue holiness.  I must pursue a life in which I strive to be more like Jesus – not only to know him, but to think like him and act like him.  

When I was a kid, I wanted to be like Mike.  So did every other boy.  We wanted to do slam dunks from the free throw line.  We wanted to hit jumpers with 3 guys in our face.  We wanted to have a mediocre minor league baseball career.  Well, not that last one, but you get the point.  Michael Jordan was the MAN!  But I don’t want to be like Mike anymore.  I want to be like Daniel – a man of integrity, honestly, and honor. 


Should we lock up the kids?

Daniel 1:3-5  3 The king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his court officials, to bring some of the Israelites from the royal family and from the nobility — 4 young men without any physical defect, good-looking, suitable for instruction in all wisdom, knowledgeable, perceptive, and capable of serving in the king’s palace — and to teach them the Chaldean language and literature. 5 The king assigned them daily provisions from the royal food and from the wine that he drank. They were to be trained for three years, and at the end of that time they were to serve in the king’s court. 

The king of Babylon took God’s people captive.  He didn’t put them to death or torture them.  No, he wanted to use them for his service.  So what did he do?  He worked to turn Israelites into Babylonians.  How would he accomplish this?  Through the young people.  He would invest in them and train them and put them into his service.

Something tells me that today, the enemy is still trying to turn God’s people into Babylonians.  And he is attempting to get the hearts of the children.  He is teaching them the language, showing them his version of right and wrong, and promising to meet their needs.  He is making magic and sorcery fun and presenting vampires as harmless (and even sexy!)  He is cramming his meal of tolerance and acceptance of sin down their throats like  Nebuchadnezzar’s royal food and wine.

Do you see what is happening?  Not only are they eating it, but so are their parents!  They are drinking their way to being numb to sin.  And the only way to keep up the buzz is to drink more of it.  Where are the Daniels?  For Daniel determined he would not defile himself with the king’s food or wine.  Even though he now lived in Babylon, he didn’t lose his identity as a citizen of heaven! 

So what are we supposed to do about this?  Should we lock up the kids?  Should we hide them away so they never see Babylon?  I say, no.  We need to teach them what Babylon looks like.  We need to prepare them for the traps that the enemy will set for them.  We need to teach them how to be heaven’s citizens in a sinful world.  It starts by doing it ourselves.  Have you inadvertently signed up for the king’s training program and sat down at his table?  If so, it’s time to take a stance like Daniel did.  It is a stance of holiness and identity in Christ.  Be set apart, friends… and teach the younger generation to do the same.