We are looking at the story of Daniel in the Bible.
Daniel is a powerful man of God in the Bible!
- He is highly influential in the lives and ruling of four separate kings.
- He sees the miracle power of God.
- He has spiritual gifts flowing and operating in his life and calling.
- He works a ‘secular job’ in a secular kingdom and is highly successful.
- He is a man of prayer.
- He is a man with no recorded mistakes.
- Daniel is exceptional and he does this all while being captive in a foreign land! He spends his life captive to violent and ungodly regimes in a land far from his own, but he flourishes and lives out a powerful influential life for God.
John 17:13-18 (NIV)
13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.
We are in the world, but not of the world.
- Jesus’ instruction is that we are not ‘exhumed’ or ‘exempt from the world and its problems’, but rather called to be Jesus representatives in the midst of it all’. We want out, but Jesus puts us in.
- We need to decide to ask what, not why. It is a temptation of the human soul to ask why, but we rarely get the answer.
- Too many people run away from God asking why, instead of running to Him asking what.
One of the first things the captivity of this world wants to do is change our names!
- Choose to live by what God says about you!
- Choose to live free in Jesus Christ – despite the captivity and brokenness of this world.
- Resolve to give God your best and don’t defile yourselves.
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.
- This means taking responsibility for our lives, despite the circumstances and irrespective of other people’s opinions or actions, also beyond our feelings, or past. Other people and circumstances can’t defile us, only we can!
- Daniel lived in the favour of God.
Daniel 1:9-20 (NIV)
9 Now God had caused the official to show favour and compassion to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”
11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
Kerrin said vegan was cool before it was cool!
Living in favour doesn’t mean we won’t be tested, but rather we will be tested.
- The devil doesn’t mind when you live in captivity – he will leave you alone, but when you stand up and start to believe and live in favour, he gets mad. Favour equals testing because we are doing something!
- Choosing to live in God’s favour doesn’t always look like the way those around us live. It often involves what others would see as crazy sacrifice – but it leads you to God’s favour and purpose.
- Never shy away from commitment and sacrifice that others are unwilling to make
- Don’t let other’s mediocrity reduce your passion, commitment or service to God.
17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.
Right from the start, although he was in captivity, Daniel had the favour of God!
- When we look at this it helps us understand that external, earthly circumstances do not ‘limit or stop’ the favour of God.
David in the Psalms says:
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
- The enemies haven’t left, David is in the presence of the enemies, but the table is still there, prepared by God and His goodness and love follow us.
- This is not the description of some poverty mentality, struggling another day, just enough, God’s angry kind of God.
- The opening passage describes Daniel as being ‘unequalled’ in skills and 10 times better than those around him – that is favour!
- Daniel’s choices to follow God at all costs and then his refusal to defile himself or give God second best and taking personal responsibility meant God could bless and favour him. It wasn’t just with the ‘perfect’ or ‘right’ circumstances – but despite circumstances.
Some people seem to live in the:
- Trial of God – life is hard and difficult – just ask them, they will tell you!
- Judgment of God – always looking at their faults and failings
- The wrath of God – always worried and timid before God
- The brokenness of God – their favourite verse is blessed are those who mourn.
- Don’t camp there, God is the King, be confident because He is your God.
Daniel flourished knowing there are realities of the above, but chooses to focus on, and to live in the favour of God!
Genesis 26:1-3, 12-16 (NIV)
26 Now there was a famine in the land—besides the previous famine in Abraham’s time—and Isaac went to Abimelek king of the Philistines in Gerar. 2 The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. 3 Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you.
It is about obedience first.
12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same (the LAND of famine at the TIME of famine) year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. 13 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. 14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. 15 So all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth.
16 Then Abimelek said to Isaac, “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.”
- Notice the King said ‘powerful’ not ‘rich’ because it’s never about money but influence!
- Even in the midst of a famine there is further physical resistance and circumstances stacked against Isaac, but they cannot stop God’s blessing.
He is in a land of famine yet two amazing things happen!
1. He sows
- You don’t sow when there is no rain – that doesn’t make sense!
- But sometimes things don’t make sense until you understand something you can’t see at the time.
- Isaac seems crazy when you look at the natural, for example sowing in a famine – but Isaac’s sowing was according to God’s Word and promise, not what he could see.
- Everyone thought he was crazy, but they didn’t hear God on the Bluetooth in his prayer time! He had information they didn’t see.
- His sowing makes sense when we consider what we can’t see.
This talks of the miracle power of sowing in obedience to God.
Giving of obedience in:
- Relationships – you respond in obedience and forgive.
- There might be a famine of their love and grace – but we need to sow anyway. Love overcomes hate.
- Finances – giving to God shouldn’t be determined simply by whether we have plenty of excess or not. It’s about what God says to give.
- Praise and Worship – there could be a famine of fun times around us, but we sow worship and praise.
- Prayer – we might not be seeing what we want happening, but keep sowing in prayer according to God’s promises, not what we see or don’t see.
Purpose what God has asked you to do with your lives and then sow into it!
- There might be a famine of opportunity in front of you regarding what you feel is your divine purpose, but never let it stop you sowing!
- You may feel called to be a person of influence, but you are stuck somewhere far from it. Sow into your life in reading, prayer, study, people skills and you will reap a harvest.
- You may feel called to be a preacher, but have no stage – sow into it. Press into God, study the word and preach in front of your mirror! Get some anointing on your life.
- You may be called to be a leader, but no opportunity seems near. Sow into making leadership decisions in your own life, live by convictions, lead wherever you find yourself.
- Are you called to run a business, but it doesn’t seem possible, sow into it. Study business management.
- Do you feel called to be a husband or wife, but there is no one in sight – don’t get sorry – get busy being the becoming the best spouse you can be so when the promise comes you are prepared and ready! Become the best you can be.
- Sow because you choose to live in favour, not famine! People who life in famine don’t sow!
The other part that doesn’t make sense is:
2. He reaped in a famine
- 100 times more than he sowed in famine.
- Despite famine around him, Isaac lived in favour and blessing!
- God’s hand on our lives is not determined by our externals, but by what we allow to be happening in our spirit! It’s not about what’s happening to you, you can choose how to pray and believe for favour.
We see this in Daniel’s life!
- The King (external of Daniel) has a bad dream and demands people do the impossible – tell him the dream and what it means.
- No one can do it (again totally external of Daniel, he doesn’t even know about it yet).
- A guy rocks up at his house and says:
- “Good morning, just so you know, you are ordered to be put to death. Have a nice day!”
- Daniel jumps on his IPAD and confirms it with APPLE NEWS – all wise people are to be put to death.
- Looses the plot and blames God for stupid captivity and even worse, giving him the gift of being wise which is now the reason he will be executed.
- What sort of sick, stupid God would make this happen and so he regrets and moans about all the sacrifices he has made for God and goes on every social media feed he can and bleeds on why God can’t be real, or the church is a farce.
- Turns to Facebook and checks Google about a new theology to fit his evolving melancholy experience.
- Tries to work harder to make it happen.
He doesn’t do any of these natural responses!
- He goes to prayer, and we would do well to listen to his prayer!
Then Daniel praised the God of Heaven 20 and said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. 21 He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. 22 He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. 23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.”
Can I encourage all of us with this prayer?
- Changing our prayers often times is the first step to changing our circumstance!
- Many pray the wrong prayer.
We need to pray prayers filled with:
- Acknowledging God’s plan and wisdom despite the current lack of comfort.
- Trusting God despite the captivity.
- Having faith that what God has shown him in prayer will unlock the future for him and others.
- The kind of prayer that moves mountains. It changes lives.
If we want to live in favour we must make a faith decision that we will be a reaper!
Let’s face every day:
- Looking for a promise.
- Believing for breakthrough.
- Scanning for good and blessing, great reports and praiseworthy.
- Focusing on your future and favour – not the past.
- Choosing praise and worship – rather than doubt or cynicism.
- Deciding to thank God and prophecy joy rather than dwell on brokenness.
The steps that we have seen so far are important in their order for a reason.
Here we see that when we choose to put:
- God first. Demonstrate a total surrender to God.
- Give Him our best.
- Put His purposes and instruction above our own wants or comfort or plans.
- Then He is able to bless and give favour outside of circumstances!
- These steps are in order because without the choices of putting God first and giving Him our best – blessing and favour leads to pride or distraction.
- You need to surrender to God before He will trust you.
Daniel’s decisions, his words, his actions, his fruit and his prayers all point to the fact that he may have been in captivity, but he lived in favour and expected it!
Kerrin encouraged every person not to:
- Live in the past – live in favour for the future.
- Don’t live in mistakes – live in favour of grace.
- Don’t live in negativity – live believing for God’s goodness and favour.
- Don’t live in lack or poverty mentality – believe to reap 100 times more in a famine.
- Don’t live with fear of ‘what if God doesn’t’ but live with confidence, favour and trust that God will.
- God will only give favour when surrender comes first.
- Wake up, pray for, believe for and look for favour, goodness and mercy.
- Look for all the things that show you are God’s favourite!
Suggestions for discussion
- Favour equals testing because we are doing something! What do you think this means?
- Can you choose to focus on, and to live in the favour of God?
- Changing our prayers can often be the first step to changing our circumstances! Discuss how this can happen.