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Devotionals

Self-Love (Part 4)

I supposed the concept of “dare” does not sound Gospel, yet it is when executed in the godliest way. Dare is to have the boldness or courage to do something that is challenging and that you have never thought possible. When you think of the great missionaries who started out, virtually in the blind, no or little money and support apart from prayer, going to peoples whose language and culture were totally foreign to them … yet surrendering their life in sacrifice to God for His Gospel’s expansion to the far corners of the world … can be called a “holy dare” in the service of God. When I say “Dare to be a Daniel” … that is why I’m meaning about Daniel. We have set a platform by discussing the difference between self-esteem and self-love and believe that self-love is Biblical because it flows from God’s love to and for us. Then we saw that even in a hopeless state where Judah thought that falling to Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian ruler who took them into exile, the people, the kingdom and the land were lost … and that meant the Messiah would not come … yet God had plans crafted before creation. He worked in the pagan king’s heart who instructed that a certain category of young men be chosen to become part of the government of the king. In verse 3 and 4 we saw three important requirements for these men … “Birth, Beauty and Brains”. Spiritually we saw that these three qualities become ours once we become God’s own. Then we saw that competence in spiritual growth and passion flow from the self-love, three B’s and spiritual maturity in Christ. These are all prerequisite for you “Daring to be a Daniel”.

1) God’s wonderful care for His called and chosen. Because of whom one is in Jesus, God initiates provisions that are sufficient for our every need. This includes the spiritual leaders and the congregation.

Da 1:5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table.

They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service. Nebuchadnezzar, acting on behalf of God cared for the chosen men. We are not certain how many there were but verse 6 & 7 tells us about four

Da 1:6 Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.

Verse 5 tells us they were provided with the best food … straight from the king’s table. Not only was this the “Woolworth” of foods, hand selected … they were tested and tasted before served. We’ll will return to this tomorrow, but for now, these men were “trained for three years” before entering the king’s government. It seems that basic education at a college, university and theological seminary seems to last for three years. Not that three years are sufficient, it’s basic, a starting point and place. Once the training is completed, the real learning starts! These men needed to understand how Babylonian politics and governance worked. Nothing but proper and proficient administration was expected. Anything less than this could mean instant execution. Surely all our political and government leaders need proper qualifications. But then spiritual leaders … those who are leaders in the local Church also need proper qualifications. By proper I don’t mean the degree or degrees … I mean quality. Those like me are not interested in just any college or university. We are interested in their doctrinal persuasion and statement of faith. Do they believe the Bible to be God inspired, inerrant and authoritative and the rule for all doctrine, theology and life? Does the Gospel take first place in their heart and practice? Does Reformation Theology run through their spiritual veins? Suitably qualified men will be able to teach and train the congregation and men and women to do ministry within the church.

2) Good Biblical education paves the way to put doctrine into practice.

Da 1:8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.

The food had been dedicated to a pagan deity and the wine, although not sinful to use, could affect Daniel’s judgment. From a Biblical perspective he decided not to eat and drink these provisions. Whatever he consumed needed to be dedicated to the true God otherwise he would “defile” himself. From a spiritual perspective, we believers need to be cautious as to what we feed our souls with. I have been accused of being judgmental over the years because of my reluctance to support certain authors, but then there is such a thing as to whether the writings are Biblical or not. Good reformed, evangelical books and sermons are the diet we need to have. Two key things to study when you have time are (a) The Five Solas (slogans) of the Reformation and (b) The Five Points of Calvinism. Understanding these will help you solidify your Biblical position and prevent defiling yourself spiritually.

3) The Sovereignty of God always works a plan! Note the phrase … “God had caused”

Da 1:9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel

even though obedience to God takes time … consider this: Have you noticed how things come together even in the most difficult environments? Then you stand back, knowing that there is no such thing as coincidence and start to observe how certain supporting events seem to come together at the same time? As the people of God we pray and trust God. He in turn, sovereignly works in various ways bringing different things, circumstances and events to coincide in such a way that what He wants comes to pass. As verse 9 says … God causes (God has caused). At present some of us are seeing God causing something to happen. Even without us knowing or helping, things are happening. God brings things together. He caused the official to show favor towards Daniel. Each Christian has seen how God opens doors and closes doors according to His predetermined will for each one of us. Sometimes we become angry when doors close only to realize that closed door was for our good and benefit. The one thing we can be certain of is God’s reign, control and provision (God causes) when we find our identity in Christ, have self-love, grow in love and knowledge of God through His Word and experimental love. Seeing His plans unfold, especially in our lives is awesome.

O God, Your rule in our lives is so wonderful. Help us to love You in obedience. Amen.

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