"But Daniel purposed in his heart..."
These questions were ringing in my head as I hovered over the above verse:
Daniel & his three friends, all from Israeli nobility & royal line, were exiled to Babylon and commanded to be brought for training so they could serve in the Babylonian king's court. It would be 3 years of language and custom training, learning the culture of the land and eating the king's food. This is where I stumbled over the verse... "Daniel resolved (purposed) not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way."
Read the story from daniel
“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god. Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. 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. Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
But Daniel purposed in his heart... My heart cried out to God. What purpose was driving me? I needed clarity & conviction to have the stamina and motivation to move forward... to find my voice... to fulfill my destiny.
Why? Because I am a visual person. I typically respond to what I see and feel both internally and externally. My internal driver is the biggest motivator and often the place where creativity, compassion, and serving comes out of. Not everyone is influenced in this manner. My husband, Bruce, is totally different! BUT, there is great benefit when we work together because we compliment and affirm one another... that is a topic for another day.
The purpose of this writing is to share what I discovered through meeting with a life coach. In doing so, I hope to encourage someone today who may find themselves in a similar spot. We met over the phone to discuss some of the business endeavors that Bruce & I were pursuing. What ended up happening though was more like a God-inspired, heart-aha moment. Here's the gist of that day's conversation...
I explained to my coach how I'd been doing a lot of prep for our business, such as rejigging our current website and building collaborating ones, creating promotional material, educating myself in marketing, etc. Basically, spending many hours to do what I could in moving things forward. The more I pressed in though, the more I was realizing that a sense of fear was mounting up inside of me. I was feeling overwhelmed with the unknowns ahead of us. I explained that for me to move forward with confidence, I needed to know the why behind my what, the purpose that was compelling me forward. A purpose so strong that it would be like a brand on my heart, an emotional cause written with indelible ink. This may sound crazy to some, might even sound like a lack of faith, but God knows how I tick. He knows what motivates me and that I needed this emotional anchor to propel me past or even through obstacles such as fear. I then heard my coach ask a great question...
She asked me to try and identify what risk, if any, was in this new venture?
I responded with, "Risk? Well there's always risk in anything we do. You know, relational, financial, personal."
"So, why would you do this?" she asked. Why would you keep moving down this path?
I heard myself say, "Because it's who God has made me to be and I need to honour Him."
...and this was the aha moment that I needed to hear!
Makes me think of a scene from the movie, 'The King's Speech' where Lionel is preparing the duke for his inauguration and provokes him into blurting out his conviction:
King George VI: [Sees Logue is sitting on the coronation throne] What are you doing? Get up! You can't sit there! GET UP!
Lionel Logue: Why not? It's a chair.
King George VI: No, it... That is not a chair. That is... that is Saint Edward's chair.
Lionel Logue: People have carved their names on it.
King George VI: [Simultaneously] That... chair... is the seat on which every king and queen...
Lionel Logue: [Simultaneously] It's held in place by a large rock.
King George VI: That is the Stone of Scone. You ah-are trivializing everything. You trivialize...
Lionel Logue: I don't care about how many royal ...
King George VI: Listen to me.
Lionel Logue: ...have sat in this chair.
King George VI: Listen to me. *Listen to me!*
Lionel Logue: Listen to you? By what right?
King George VI: By divine right, if you must. I am your king.
Lionel Logue: No, you're not. You told me so yourself. You said you didn't want it. Why should I waste my time listening...?
King George VI: Because I have a right to be heard! I have a voice!
Lionel Logue: [pauses] Yes, you do.
Lionel Logue: You have such perseverance, Bertie. You're the bravest man I know. You'll make a bloody good king.
Back to my coaching conversation...
I heard myself declare the call of God on me for this season of my life. And, in that moment everything changed inside! Self-doubt was minimized to where it was supposed to be (non-existent!) and fear of others opinions lost its authoritative spot in my brain. I felt excited, energized and purposed -- compelled by the direction of the Holy Spirit! I FELT my purpose! I knew instinctively who I was made to be and that all of these opportunities facing Bruce & I were God's way of using the gifts and personality traits he had made both of us with.
I was also astutely aware (again!) that the fear I was experiencing prior to this was none other than a lie of the devil, trying to take advantage of my compassionate heart. Trying to derail me with his habitual accusations. The enemy is a liar and does not want any of us to walk freely in the purpose God has made us for. He does not want us to be happy or to help others to be so. I felt a tenacious resolve rise up in my spirit, not unlike the fur rising on the back of a dog! I said NO!
My purpose was and will continue to be the motivator behind the various projects and tools that I invest my life in. It is behind the voice and the message. It is the God-given conviction that I am designed to house.
What's your purpose?
What compels you to say & do what you do?
And... What is the risk if you move forward with what you perceive God leading you into?
It is my prayer that you will find your purpose... your voice. It's in you to give.
This is the will of the Father who sent me, that of all he has given me I should lose nothing...
The day before Jesus made the above statement was the day he fed 5,000 men along with all of their families. (see John 6:1-14) It's a fairly well known story and not the only time that Jesus performed this type of miracle along with his disciple team. (see Mark 8:1-10)
The gist of the story was that crowds came out of the city and surrounding area to listen, see, and experience the power of God through Jesus. His fame was rapidly spreading and people wanted to be near him. Unlike today, there were no off-highway, fast-food services for people to stock up on meals so they were out there lacking necessities.
Jesus saw them. Jesus had compassion on them. He asked if anyone had food and found that a boy had a lunch that could be shared... with 5,000+ people. Jesus got the disciples to organize the crowd into groups of 50, took the boy's lunch, thanked him and thanked God for it and then started handing it out via his team. The crowd ate until they were full! A guess-timation would be that 8-10,000 adults plus another few 1,000 children would have been there and been fed. Amazing!!!
"So, when they were filled, He said to His disciples, "Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost." (vs. 12)
When I was reading this today, this verse literally stopped me! I had to ask God what He was wanting me to see. I've read this story so many times but not hung my hat on this particular verse before. What was God wanting me to realize?
The word for 'lost' in the greek is 'apollymi'. It is also used in several other verses in the New Testament meaning destroyed, perish and wasted.
...nothing is lost.
As I pondered, I saw a park being cleaned -- not unlike what the church in Brantford did after Canada Day at Lions Park. I thought, Jesus is exhibiting good stewardship, honour of the land that was probably left a mess by the crowd. But then I thought, the birds could have cleaned this one up.
Hmmmm... Then I thought, this is yet another visual for the crowd and his disciples showing God's power and generosity. This was not a new idea for me though. So, I kept pondering... I still could not articulate what was in my spirit. I continued to read on in John 6 and that's when I saw it! Look again at verse 39:
This is the will of the Father who sent me, that of all he has given me I should lose nothing...
When God does something, everything about it is sacred. Nothing is lost. Nothing is wasted. Everything given by Him is intentional with full potential to be effective, revealing Jesus and the way to everlasting life. Nothing is meant to be lost!
Everything done in obedience to the Holy Spirit of God, whether in public or private or private or private (yes, I know I repeated myself) will not be lost. Every moment, act of faith, dollar spent, deed done, seed planted, prayer cried, neighbour served, will not be wasted for this is the will of our Father.
Even the unused fragments picked up off the ground were a testimony that indeed the crowd was miraculously fed to the max. We don't know what Jesus did with the leftovers, but I'm sure they weren't wasted!
As I was reading my Bible one morning I was constantly having to refocus. My mind was not listening and instead was in full throttle worry over things that I knew I should not be concerning myself with. That's when I stopped and said (out-loud)... My mind is my worst enemy!
It dwells on things it shouldn't. It fast forwards and then rewinds. It seems to have its own will.
And then I heard Paul saying (not out-loud :), "O wretched person that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?"
But wait, he then says...
"So then, with my mind I myself serve the law of God... (Romans 7:24,25)
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit." (Romans 7:25; 8:5)
With my mind? When I am muddling over things that have already taken place, I am concerning myself with what I have no power over. When I am rehearsing the future, I am concerning myself with things that do not belong to me. I am serving my appetites, desires and fears -- not God. When my mind is serving the Spirit of God it is not strategizing on how to fix someone or something else that was not given to me to fix. It is alert and at rest and becomes an asset for God's kingdom, full of the thoughts and ways of Christ. It sees clearly, discerns rightly, listens well, responds obediently, and sleeps well at night. It loves and believes the impossible. It believes the best and is ready for God's direction & wisdom.
Does this resonate with you? Has your mind gone off track?
If so, why don't you pray what I did:
Forgive me, Lord for forgetting.
Forgive me for taking ownership - for taking Your spot.
I set my mind on You and Your ways.
I set my mind on the things of the Spirit.
Have a peaceful & effective day!
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
This morning I woke up way too early (4:30am!) and my mind was bombarded with several failures of my past. I had flashbacks of many moments that I wished could be erased or at least that I could go back and redo. Half asleep, I tried to rally my thoughts and gain proper footing. My heart was saddened with the memories. I think it will always be, for there was nothing good in these moments of selfishness and pride. But, and there is a but, these were not the end of the story!
Each moment of life can be separated out as a snapshot in time, an instagram post with no explanation of the why or the where of the image. Each moment though has another attached to it on either side and each of those do as well. If I were to take a few steps out I would find that the images connected like dominoes, creating a story board of motion and revealing a greater perspective than any one image could have on its own. That is the reality of life.
What I saw in my half comatose state, were up-close, snapshots without any context attached to them. They were flipping by so quickly, reminding me of the dark moments of much larger scenarios... reminding me of things that I could have done better!
Today is Good Friday. This has always been a sobering day for me, largely due to being raised in a home that was very careful to honour its memory of one of the most significant moments in history, the day that Jesus Christ was crucified. As a moment in time, it was beyond sad, it was wrong, it was cruel and, it was a dark stain of injustice on humankind. This innocent man was unjustly tried and murdered.
These moments in time can give the great impression that somehow darkness had won and that the devil had gained prominent status. I suppose, as a snapshot, that is what seemed to be apparent in this case.
What one has to do though, is to stand back and observe the broader picture, the complete story as far as we have told us, viewing the history leading up to the event and the cascade of moments sprouting off of it. From that vantage point, even the darkest day can often find a greater purpose, even a victory. Think of all the sacrifices made over the years by valiant soldiers giving their lives to rid us of a pressing evil...
In this moment of history, Jesus Christ, the son of God, gave his life willingly as a sacrifice for humanity's selfish ways, gaining us eternal freedom. He was a sinless man who took on our sins, our moments of selfishness and pride and paid for them with his life. He was the perfect sacrifice, saving us from ourselves.
Now, I can soberly take my moments of sin (past or present) to this same Jesus and find that I am forgiven and released from the eternal offense of them. I can also find that my mind, though sad at memories of failure, does not feel guilty anymore. Jesus paid the price for them and there is nothing left for me to be condemned about.
Such news is good and brings my heart and head peace! Maybe that's why it wasn't long before I fell back to sleep again :)
This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah.
Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past.
The Nativity Story
Luke 1:14 - You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.
Matthew 1:18-25 - This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
Isaiah 11:1 - Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
Matthew 2: 1-23 - Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. 4 He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.
After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.” Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
“A cry was heard in Ramah—weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted, for they are dead.”
When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. “Get up!” the angel said. “Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead.” So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with Jesus and his mother. 22 But when he learned that the new ruler of Judea was Herod’s son Archelaus, he was afraid to go there. Then, after being warned in a dream, he left for the region of Galilee. So the family went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what the prophets had said: “He will be called a Nazarene.”
Luke 2: 1-20 - At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
Psalm 98:4 - Shout to the Lord, all the earth; break out in praise and sing for joy!
Luke 2:10 - but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.
John 3:16 - For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
Isaiah 9:6 - For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
1 John 4: 7-14 - Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. NLT
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root. (Isaiah 11:1)
I cannot begin to tell you how much this means to me. One of the most immense gifts that Jesus gave us that first Christmas was freedom from the guilt of sin. As he lived in Mary, I too can have him live in me. When He moves in, guilt and shame moves out! His Spirit shows me how to do life the way Jesus did, with joy and freedom.
“There is, then, now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit; for the law of the Spirit of the life in Christ Jesus did set me free from the law of the sin and of the death;”
Look for Christ and you will find Him.
And with Him, everything else.
“C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity”
You will find hope, peace, joy, family, eternal life, forgiveness, freedom. You will find love and life for what it was meant to be.
God's love for us is intense. So much so, that he took the effort to speak very directly with people so we could not mistake the miracle and gift of Jesus' birth. He lavished his love, attention, and affection on us when we weren't even looking for it.
What is it to lavish? Lavish is an old word with rich meaning, as in, sumptuously rich, luxurious, and elaborate. What does this have to do with Jesus Christ's birth?
On one hand, Jesus left rich & luxurious surroundings to be born into poverty. But on the other hand, God dealt elaborately in matters relating to the people who were directly involved with Jesus' birth, benefiting not only them but us, today, as well. Here are a few scenarios recorded for us:
Invited? By God?
My head knows the facts. My heart knows this is truth. My humanity remains in wonder that the God of this universe would engage so personally with me.
Please inquire for the word of the LORD today. 1 Kings 22:5