I'm only three weeks in the study and I feel like this Daniel character is a person I've barely met despite all those years of firey furnace & lion den story tellings. While I wish I could pour into you all of the information I have been internalizing with this study, the only way for you to do it is to do it yourself. Still, yall know I like to offer my 2 cents, so I am.
In week 1, we took a glance at what it might have really been like for Daniel and his friends to be removed from their homes and taken to Babylon. Babylon was the very place that God had removed His chosen people from, scattered them, & told them never to return to. Talk about earth shaking! Not to mention, God was delivering the Israelites into the hands of the Babylonians because of the way they had chosen to live.
Long long long long long story shorter. . .
Beth made some really valuable points (I'm only going to highlight a few):
1) The enemy wants to return us to places God called us to leave.
-Aint that the truth? Think of all those dark roads in your past (but don't stay there too long, because God did redeem and deliver you). Just think about how much Satan tried, or still tries, to take you back there. Boy could I write a whole blog just about this.
2)Captivity can seem friendly and even be friendly when those places we aren't supposed to be take us back so willingly, but friendly captivity never stays friendly.
-I'm just gonna let your own heart ponder on that point
3) Without RESOLVE we WILL LOSE our identity and our integrity.
Daniel 1:8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine. . .
King Nebuchadnezzar wanted the youngest and the fittest to be trained up, educated, well fed, and indoctrinated in order to use them for his benefit in his nation. Daniel denied pleasurable food and treatment because he refused to commit himself to friendship with the Babylonian culture. He refused to defile himself and we would be fools to think this was done easily. It took incredible resolve.
resolve is the firm determination to do something
Okay, obviously the study doesn't end there, but I am going to link it to what I have been studying in my daily devotional time. I am trying to read through the Bible in a year and I'm following the order from a Life-Journaling reading plan so it isn't just Genesis-Revelation. Anyways, the readings for the 18th and 19th were: 1 Samuel 20-22, Psalm 34, 17, 35, and Matthew 5-6.
Normally I am drawn to the Old Testament readings. I am so intrigued by the stories and the powerful ways God made Himself known and the ridiculous ways His people failed again and again and again. How am I any different, right? Anyways, the scripture that stood out to me on the 18th was Psalm 34:13
Psalm 34:13 Keep your tongue from evil & your lips from speaking lies
On the 19th, it was Psalm 17:3b
Psalm 17:3b ...I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.
Our culture is so obsessed with talking about everyone else. It is so tempting to say ugly & judgmental things about other people & all that does is reveal the ugly about us. I have been burdened, heavily burdened, over the last several months by the amount of negative things people say about other people. How are we supposed to live in community as The Church, as God designed it, if we don't resolve to speaking only out of love. There are people in my life right now who only ever have negative things to say about anyone who comes up in conversation. They sound haughty and mean, and while I love these people very much, it makes me fully aware that I do not want to be anything like that. Have I ever been like that? Yes, I have. And at times, I am sure that the enemy tries to drag me back to that place.
Our mouths are powerful tools and deadly weapons. The incredible ability and gift to communicate should be used only for building others up. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29
In James 1:26 it says If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
I encourage you today to take great resolve in this matter and to resist the temptations to speak unkindly about others. I wonder how our lives would be different if we would commit just one week to that age old golden rule, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."