God has dealt with me for a long time about getting up early to spend time with Him in the morning before the chaos of the day begins. His word even encourages it. David speaks many times of it. Psalm 119:147 says, “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.” We see it in Psalm 5:3, “In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” It says in Isaiah 50:4, “The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.”
There seems to be a trending power here. A hidden strength. My usual mornings start with being woken up by one or both of my kids and hitting the ground running. Someone’s hungry. Somebody has to pee. Someone is standing in front of the tv demanding Mickey or Chuggington. There are constant needs that must be met each morning to prevent catastrophic Chernobyl meltdowns by little barefooted people.
It’s time for a change. But, change doesn’t come until you’re fed up with where you are and where you’ve been. You have to make the conscious effort to do something different. That’s where the rubber meets the road.
My devotion time has landed me in Daniel this morning. Daniel chapter 1 to be exact. Let’s do this thing. Dig in. Find the meat to start our day and find our strength. We’re being introduced to Daniel and his friends better known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. King Nebuchadnezzar had come to Jerusalem and seized the city and ordered possession of some of the young men who were extremely intelligent, handsome, and those who didn’t have a hard time doing physical labor. He wanted the cream of the crop. (I’ve never really understood the meaning of that. If crops were creamy, wouldn’t they be old and mushy? Maybe not. I don’t know.. Pardon my ADD for the interruption. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.)
These guys were supposed to learn the culture of Babylon. Their language and literature, a must. They were fed the fanciest and choice foods from the king’s table and trained diligently for three years and then entered into the king’s service. Who wouldn’t want to be put on a king’s diet? When else would these young men be given such extravagant food and wine? But something was different about Daniel. He wasn’t feeling it. He requested from the chief official that he and his friends not defile themselves by overindulging in the finer things. He really had some audacity! It’s like he said, “Your fancy foods disgust us. Vegetables and water will do. Thanks.”
The king’s chief official was afraid to bring this request before King Nebuchadnezzar, but Daniel asked him to test them for ten days and see who was in better shape. This is where we are first introduced to the Daniel Fast. Abstaining from the finer things and only taking in the bare essentials. I. Would. Die. I hate vegetables. I couldn’t have lived in those days. I wouldn’t have lasted long. God knew I was an 80’s child. *wipes brow*
Daniel and his friends, to everyone’s astonishment, were much better off on vegetables and water at the end of ten days than the men on the king’s diet. Nebuchadnezzar (Man, that’s hard to type. Thank God auto correct picks it up!) took notice and tested them, finding them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom. Talk about the favor of God!
When we push the plate back and take time to soak in the word of God, we find favor in His sight. We are promoted spiritually. He takes the place of our morning cup o’ Joe and fills us far more than Starbucks ever will. Take a personal inventory right now. Is there something that you’re overindulging in? What’s blocking your way to your knees? Maybe God is trying to get your attention. It’s in lack that our faith is tested and increased. You may have to loosen your grip on a few things.
There are so many conveniences that hinder us. We are so blessed that were bursting at the seams. The buttons on our pants are flying off because we are so full. And of what? Things? iPads and iPhones, magazine subscriptions, quarterly vacations, fancy cars, elaborate jewelry and clothes lining our closets, shoes galore, and a high class palate for the finest foods? Is that what life is all about? We’re taking and wanting more and more, yet there are countless families that are constantly going without bare essentials. Some live in third world countries, yes. But so many live right down the street.
These tornados in Oklahoma have messed me up so bad. Last night I just watched my kids play for almost an hour. They didn’t pick up a toy. They didn’t play Xbox games. They ran back and forth making up their own language and chased each over across the living room. They just spent time together and it was priceless. Here we are in a house full of “things” and there are hundreds of people that are rummaging through the rubble that used to be their homes trying to find something, anything, that can be pulled from the scattered bricks and nails that reminds them of better days.
What can we give up so that others can live better? Why not shorten your order at McDonald’s and pick up the person’s bill behind you. Pay it forward. Oh, you thought this life was about you? Oh sweetie, you’re sadly mistaken. We are ambassadors of the Most High God on a mission to reach the lost and extend a hand. We can’t give God glory when we’re sucked into the American dream of having, having, having and getting. Be a Daniel. Or Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego if you need a cooler name. Dare to be different. Separate yourself from the finer things in life. Cut the cord. And see what God can do to fill the void.
Living Life Unscripted,