Saturday, November 26, 2011

Resolved Not to Defile!

I have been slowly working through Beth Moore's "Daniel" study and when I say slowly -I mean I am still in week one... something she said in the opening session has stuck with me and I have been turning it around in my head. She said that in Daniel's day, "to share a meal was to commit oneself to friendship" - it was a sign of coming into covenant with in Daniel 1:8, when Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the food from the King's table what he was really saying was, "I refuse to switch my allegiance from the one true God to the false gods of Babylon". He determined not to break his covenant to Father God even though those around him were doing everything in their power to force the situation -even changing his name(more on that in a future post)!
In the course of this first week's study, the question of cultural influence and indoctrination was posed. She asked us what bothered us most...
The truth is -if you are walking & breathing, believer or not-- you have been indoctrinated.

As I was thinking about this, my focus kept coming back to the church (of which I am a part -least anyone think I am excluding myself from this sermon)...
What bothers me most is that the church has been unwittingly indoctrinated into the world's way of doing life, health and nutrition -in many respects there is no difference between us and the world...the divorce rate is the same, we are dying from the same diseases and we are literally eating from the same table! Some would argue that it is because we live in a fallen world that these similarities exist and while that may be a contributing factor, it is becoming more and more clear to me that our own choice (overt or covert) to embrace the patterns and behaviors of the world are at the center of our demise.

The majority of us (when I say us I'm referring to believers) have adopted the same hurried lifestyle, pace and values of the world... we pile our plates high with the same rich food, we satiate our lust for more, we burn the candle at both ends and we practice very little restraint. All the while, disabling the God-given system for naturally building and sustaining health within our bodies. Then, we plop down in the Doctor's chair and expect some chemist's potion to miraculously cure -in reality only mask -  the damage that is a direct result of what we ourselves have either knowingly or unknowingly propagated against ourselves through poor lifestyle choices, neglect of  pursuing and applying truth in health practices and nutritional compromises. We have effectively incapacitated ourselves on a whole host of levels and virtually rendered ourselves ineffective for the kingdom because we look no different than the world around us!

That's a pretty bleak summation if it stopped there...but there is hope! The bible says in Hosea that we are perishing for lack of knowledge. It also says, in the Book of James, that Father delights in giving us wisdom. His truth and operating in the fullness of his principles really does set us free! We just have to seek it and then practice it on a daily basis...

Studies show (I and my family are living testimonies) that adopting a lifestyle of true health and wellness -including a healthy nervous system, organic whole foods nutrition, detoxing, exercise and renewing your mind in the truth of God's Word all work in tandem to effectively reverse and in most cases obliterate the plague of conditions and diseases that are robbing us of the abundant, long life God promises in his Word and intends for each of us to experience! When we start putting sound nutrition into play and eliminate emotional, chemical and physical stressors from our body's systems then, this amazing machine - God's pristine design~the pinnacle of his creation- begins to operate in it's perfect order: restoring, regulating and healing itself! All it takes is a willingness to pursue truth, shift our paradigms to it and practice what we learn on a daily basis.

It worked for Daniel! He refused to "defile himself" (Daniel 1:8) and the favor of the Father rested on him all the days of his life even in the midst of great adversity:

"At the end of 10 days[of eating healthy, nutritious food] they looked better and healthier than all the young men who were eating the king's food."

Daniel 1:15

In the 3 years of keeping covenant and pursuing health and not the world's way ...

" God gave....knowledge and understanding in every kind of literature and wisdom. Daniel also understood visions and dreams of every kind...In every matter of wisdom and understanding that the king consulted them about, he found them 10 times better than all the diviner-priests and mediums in his entire kingdom."

Daniel 1: 17 & 20

To do what Daniel did takes resolve and courage! You will in essence be a salmon swimming will risk offending and even those closest to you thinking you're crazy or weird (Jesus did, too) but, in the end the narrow way will lead to fullness of life and freedom!

You can do it!

Resolve to be a covenant keeper and set your face like flint to the task and beyond that to the One who has called you to the task...Father will empower and equip you with all you need to rise to the challenge!

To your health and that of the generations that will be forever changed because of your courage "not to defile" yourself... May Father reap His glory from your faithful obedience and may his kingdom come through hands and feet surrendered and submitted to his way! AMEN!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Faithful into Captivity and Through it!

Daniel 1:

Father God gave the Israelites into the hands of the Babylonians- He sovereignly directed their captivity. It didn't catch him off guard or by surprise... it was by design! This captivity encompassed everyone -it wasn't selective - both faithful and unfaithful were bond and dragged away...

Think about it, for Daniel to take the bold stand he took in Verse 8 of Chapter 1, he had to have been grounded in an abiding faith and understood the very character of Father God toward him. That faith originated somewhere and I venture to say it was not birthed at the point of confrontation - emboldened maybe but, not birthed!

I believe his courageous action demonstrates a pure unwavering faith and confidence in Father God and HIS WAY...and the Word says that God granted him favor in that. One could surmise from that, that Father God was using captivity to test and prove Daniel's faith...

Judging by the extended favor and according to scripture, Daniel was passing the test and continued in that favor for the entirety of his life - although (and don't miss this) the Bible tells us in Verse 21 of Chapter 1 that he REMAINED there...he never left captivity and yet he maintained this faithful and favored status!

Father God led a faithful man into the dessert of captivity- surrounded him by his enemy - in fact he enslaved him to his enemy. He tested and grew his faith, and empowered him to make a bold stand. God granted him favor in the presence of that same enemy, increased his position, knowledge and spiritual understanding, as well as, his physical health. All the while, maintaining the captive status.

The question we are tempted to ask here is WHY?

Why would a loving God give his faithful ones into the hands of their enemies and allow them to be taken into captivity?

Why would he allow them to remain in that place?

I think the better question in this is...WHAT?


What was Father purposed in doing here?

What was the bigger picture goal?

In my view, the answer is fourfold:

1) He is a just and Holy God who can not let sin go unpunished and will not yield His glory to another!
Israel, as a whole, was prone to wander and needed some redirecting (captivity seemed to do the       trick every time) In that, sin has far-reaching consequences and effects even the faithful.

2) This was a perfect opportunity to strengthen, grow and prove the faithful's faith...while demonstrating his absolute sovereignty over the situation (He is Lord even in captivity - there is no other).

3) In the places of deepest hardship, pain and wounding, he delights in being " I AM" -showering his favor and displaying his splendor... getting his glory from righteous lives - bringing blessing and light even to the darkest moments.

4) The bottom line, if captivity is the drawing force for his glory, fame and renown to be ushered in then, captivity is the place he will lead -not only to prove the character of those being led and transform them into the image of Jesus Christ but, to raise his standard that he might draw all men unto himself!

If I'm remembering correctly, the ultimate outcome for Daniel was the enemy captor declaring the sovereignty of the captive's God!

Goal accomplished!