Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Faithful friendships help make this journey sweeter

I have spent my morning reading Daniel. What a book of faith, courage and strength. But there are a few other things I gather from this reading. Friendship and humility. Daniel had all. His friends were blessed to have him and in turn his friends were blessed indeed to have him. I love reading through the book of Daniel. I love it when each time I read God shows me something totally different and blesses me in a special way.

Here Daniel and his three friends were being held captive. They didn't give in and they didn't give up anything. Not themselves nor their faith. They walked in faith together. What a tremendous blessing it is to walk with friends of faith. To talk with my friends about faith, our struggles and what a great God we have is awesome. We all have our ups and downs. Your friends stay there with you through the good, the bad and ugly.

Proverbs 13:20 "Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble." Daniel walked with wise friends. They could count on one another. They lifted each other and counseled one another. The opinion they offered was of great value.

Micah 6:8 "No, O people, the Lord had told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." Daniel and his friends were humble. They walked with God and knew of His mercies. They did what was right in the eyes of God not of man. They did so together. These are the kind of friendships we should all seek to have. These friendships should be cherished. Each of these young men were a light, but together, all four of them? The light was even brighter and shown throughout the land.

Daniel 1:8-9 "But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods. Now God had given the chief of staff both respect respect and affection for Daniel." We see Daniel honoring God and in turn God is honoring Daniel. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah all had their Hebrew names changed. These names were giving God glory. The King had them changed to now give his gods glory, but through these four young men the kings gods never gained glory. They never gave into these gods nor did they give into man. As they were among all the other people surrounding them they never let go of their faith in God, the King of kings. They stayed true to who they were even when their names were changed.

What do we do when we are around others who do not share our faith? Do we just fit in the best way we can? Does our speech and actions changed to fit theirs or do we stand firm and grounded in our belief of Christ? Just through our actions and speech we can either bring others closer to Christ or further away. Other saw something different and unique in these four young men. As we stand, what do other see in us?

Daniel remained in the courts and in royal service, but he never gave in to the demands of others to change. He endured much. Through his endurance we can see great faith and see the example we too can follow. In our schools, our work places and yes, even our families, we are surrounded by those who think differently and even persecute us for our belief in Christ. We must make a choice just as Daniel did and live for Christ or our flesh. Daniel chose God every time.

Daniel 2:17-20 "Then Daniel went home and told his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah what had happened. He urged them to ask the God of heaven to show them his mercy by telling them the secret, so they would not be executed along with the other wise men of Babylon. That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. He said, 'Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power.'" Wow, here we see Daniel going to his friends and asking for prayer! Can you see these four young men gathering to pray? What a beautiful sight to see friends praying over one another, reaching to the heavens with their requests with hearts open wide. God gave His will in answering a yes to this request.

God's answers are always not yes, just as when Danial's friends were thrown in the furnace. But in that no from God to keep them from the furnace, King Nebuchadnezzar worshipped God by seeing their great faith as they walked out of that furnace together. They went in as friends and they came out as friends. Daniel 3:28-28 "Then Nebuchadnezzar said, 'Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king's command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.'" This king now had great respect for these young men. Just by being themselves they were showing others how to walk with God.

After Daniel had been brought to the king he was asked the meaning to King Belshazzar's dream. The king wanted to give Daniel gifts, but Daniel refused his gifts. Daniel tells him in Daniel 5:17 "Daniel answered the king, Keep your gifts or give them to someone else, but I will tell you what the writing means." Daniel knew he did nothing. It was the Lord working through Daniel. Daniel was humble in all his ways and wanted all glory to go to God. It was shortly after this that the king's men were jealous of Daniel. They wanted to get rid of him, but didn't know how. They couldn't find one wrong in Daniel. The only thing they could do was trick the king into making a new rule, a new law that no one could pray to any other god but his. They knew Daniel prayed to God. Even knowing Daniel was facing the lion's den he never gave up his faith. He prayed to God and he faced that lion's den just as his friends before faced the furnace. They did so with faith. They knew God was with them and they too knew each friend was praying for the other.

Our walk should be one of great faith being true to the God of heaven in every way. Our friendships should be of those that lift us up and bring bring us into a great circle of faith together. We can make a difference, but together this walk is even greater when you have blessed friendships to share in the journey.
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