Even with Daniel’s displacement as a youth and the loss of everything he had ever known, he excelled. God had his hand on Daniel, but that is not the only place we see it. In fact, the supernatural works of God are on full display throughout our reading this week: writing on the wall, shutting the mouths of lions, a heavenly battle!
Maybe Daniel really did have a super power. He wasn’t bitten by a radioactive spider or from another planet, nor did he have access to amazing technological breakthroughs.
Not just in emergencies, but as a daily routine. Daniel was so committed to prayer that when jealousy overcame the chief satraps, they knew his steadfastness in communing with God through prayer was how to trap him.
When Daniel received a troubling vision and needed comfort, he prayed and fasted. Answering, God sent a warrior angel to his aide and we got a glimpse of heavenly warfare that could have come straight out of the comics.
As the angel began to speak, he said something that blew my mind. He was on his way to answer Daniel’s prayer from the moment it was prayed. FROM THE MOMENT.
It turns out that Daniel did not have power of his own; he was merely in relationship with the one who was Power. It is this relationship that he carried with him which gave him the strength and ability to interpret the writing for King Belshazzar and that gave him the courage to defy the decree of Darius and address him with wisdom and respect after surviving a night with the lions.
Relationship with our Heavenly Father blessed him with the ability to not just receive visions, but interpret. And when the vision for God’s people, whom Daniel loved, became too troubling for him to bear, it was relational prayer that brought the warrior angel to help him.
Saying there is power in prayer seems a bit cliché, but it doesn’t make it less true. However, I would add that there is power in relationships too.
In my own life, there have been many times when I wished a superhero would swoop in and save the day. Funny though, that never happened. Instead, I would pray and cry out to my Heavenly Father and be strengthened.
And help would come.
An encouraging text, a check in the mail, a miraculous change of heart, life blossoming when the circumstances spelled death. Friends, it was not by my might nor my strength; it was never due to my striving or attempt to persuade circumstances.
It was the Spirit of God, acting relationally through His people.
As Christians, God’s Spirit is available to all of us. His power is not just for salvation, and when we are rooted in Him, His power becomes palpable in our lives. Daniel prayed out of relationship, not just ritual. As a result, Daniel’s spirit and God’s Spirit were in tune and he lived life in supernatural power.
So, “dare to be a Daniel.” Commit to being in relationship with God and others, praying consistently, rooting your spirit in His.
Memory Verse: “So he said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty.’” Zechariah 4:6 NIV
I wonder if this is how Moses felt as the leader of Israel. Every step he took forward was met with grumbling and resistance. Having only their own understanding to draw on, whenever a challenge was presented and God’s provision was not what they thought it should be, they responded out of a pattern of fear and complaint. In the end, this way of thinking led to 40 years of merry-go-round-like roaming, without destination, in the desert.
Even Moses had his moment of acting rashly. Drawing from his own experience, he disobeyed God when he struck the rock for water instead of speaking to it.
Momentarily, his heart returned to his earlier days in Egypt when he murdered the Egyptian for beating an Israelite. In his rage, Moses put his trust in his own actions, not God’s instructions.
The pull to remain on the merry-go-round of self-reliance is strong, but stronger still is the power of the One who frees us.
Although self-sufficient thinking is praised in our society, God wants us to be dependent on Him. It seems that from the dawn of creation the one thing He desires most is our hearts in close relationship with Him; trusting His methods, committed to obedience, and receiving His blessings.
Isn’t that just like a parent?
He knows what we do not, and if we live our life based on our own understanding, I believe, like Israel, we often end up forfeiting the abundant life God promised to us, dooming us to a life of wandering and feeling trapped, spinning on the merry-go-round of habit with “if only”’s swirling through our minds.
How do we exit? What will stop the spinning? Can we get off the merry-go-round and break these cyclical patterns?
What was powerful for Israel and in my life as well? A decision followed by action. Stepping off my current path and onto God’s, every time life begins to spin.
Choosing not to hold to the ways we set in our hearts is an intense fight. And when we lose, when we choose our own ways over God’s, we may find ourselves feeling defeated. But three things are encouraging even still:
So, here is the hard question. Are you able to trust what God says enough to take the leap from your own merry-go-round?
It will be uncomfortable, come with a bit of uncertainty and might have kind of a rough landing, but freedom from spinning is worth it.
Every. Single. Time.
So friend, let’s leap from our own merry-go-rounds into the steady arms of God our Father and trust His plans for our lives.
Memory Verse: “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NIV
Consider what God may have been feeling just prior to the flood. How crushing man’s sinful ways would have been to Him.
In the first few chapters of Genesis, God goes from creating the world and saying it was good, very good, to regretting and changing His actions from creation to destruction. OUCH.
I wonder if Noah ever questioned God’s decision, perhaps thinking, “Is it really necessary to start over?”
Noah knew God was going to spare his family but even so, it must have been pretty scary for him as the waters burst forth from the deep and rain fell from the heavens causing the ark to tilt and groan until it was lifted from the ground.
The sound alone would have been terrifying, yet they made it safely through the storm to dry ground where the ark passengers began the task of repopulating the earth.
It is hard for me to comprehend how a creator would choose to destroy his own creation. Why would God destroy what He had previously blessed?
We don’t have the capacity to understand the mind of God, and friend, it is important not to get stuck here insisting on answers, lest we become guilty of pride, demanding God be accountable to our desires and solutions.
God is all-knowing. He is all-powerful. And, what makes this beautiful is our loving Father always has been and always will be a promise keeper.
He promised, in the form of warning, that eating fruit from the tree of Knowledge would bring death. He promised Noah He would spare His family and the animals on the ark while destroying everything else that drew breath; He promised that He would never again flood the entire earth. And, He has held true to His word.
God’s ways of accomplishing His purpose are out of our comprehension. But, we can trust that when we obey and are surrendered to Him, there is always something new, something next, something good.
For God is our loving creator and, just as my daughter cared for her drawings, He put detailed thought into every stroke of His creation, including you.
After she saw I threw out her pictures, my daughter got more paper, a marker and went to work. Having learned from her previous hours spent at the drawing board, her new round of drawings were even better than the last.
The new beginnings God has for us are not always smooth and often come in the wake of loss. Still, we can have faith that God always makes a way forward. Through death, depression, joblessness, anxiety, and fear while lost in the wilderness of life, God is with you, directing your steps.
Is there an area in your life where you don’t understand how God is at work? Ask Him to show you your next step forward as you continue to trust in His promises.
Memory Verse: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV
He was desperate. The disciples had tried but could not free his boy of the spirit. Upon Jesus’s rebuke, the father cried, “I believe, help my unbelief!” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out screeching and throwing a fit.
The disciples had authority yet they failed to free the boy. They had authority, but their belief in that authority was now challenged. Had they grasped the attitude authority affords?
Have I adopted that attitude? Have you?
I exercise authority in my role as a parent, but do I have an attitude of authority over my emotions or moods? Or over my words, both spoken and thought? Over my perception of circumstance?
Am I walking in authority knowing I am the thinker of my thoughts, or am I letting those pesky worries steal my focus?
I have authority to proclaim the kingdom of God in all areas of my life. Do I proclaim it? Or do I make excuses? Excuses come between us and receiving what God has for us.
Prayer and fasting keep me in tune with who God is and who I am in Him so I can receive God’s love and power from a posture of complete surrender to His authority. (Maybe that is why Jesus answered the disciples’ confusion by sharing the need to pray and fast.)
When I am surrendered, I can operate with an attitude of authority--
I can claim kingdom authority in all areas of life. So can you.
So my question is: which father are you? Do you recognize Jesus’s authority and walk in it yourself? Or, like the other father, do you struggle?
So often, in my life, I struggle. To me, it can feel scary, bold, and completely out of my comfort zone to walk in the authority of Christ, but it is part of our call as believers to do it.
Can we, sisters, commit to try? Will you join me? We can be comforted in knowing that when we fail, just like the desperate father, we can cry “Jesus, help my unbelief!”...and He will.
As moms, we all feel a burden of love for our children, a love capable of strengthening us for great sacrifice. When it comes to our families, we act out of this love, doing the next right thing to the best of our ability.
Whether you’re changing diapers or doing the uncomfortable work of disciplining, I believe God has placed us all, intentionally, where we are for “such a time as this.” But because we are not only mothers, but daughters of the King, there will be different seasons.
I don’t know about you, but lately I feel my season changing. My heart is being stirred in new directions. Some of you may feel a calling to lead, some to build, some to write, serve, speak...the list is as broad as our giftings.
If you find yourself uncertain of your purpose for the season you’re in, consider Esther and Nehemiah—neither of them were given imperative commands into their calling. The expectation was that, no matter the season, they—and we—would act in love.
Sometimes God gives us solid words, other times He stirs our hearts in the direction of what is breaking His.
Where is my heart stirring out of love for others?
What can I do about it?
What does love require of me?
These questions weighed on me as I completed this past week’s reading. I am not currently being called to anything that would risk my life. But what about my comfort? Security? Status? Schedule? Pride?
Love required my daughter to sacrifice for her friend. My sister in Christ, what does love require from you?
Prayerfully consider over the next few days if you will allow God to stir your heart for what is breaking His. Ask Him to give you strength, fueled by love for all those made in His image, so you will be willing to sacrifice whatever is necessary to be able to do the next right thing.