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OUT OF CONTROL • Under Control – 5/1/22

In the Old Testament Book of Daniel, we read about the captives taken from Jerusalem after King Nebuchadnezzar besieged the city and ransacked the temple. Daniel was among those exiled to Babylon. He was chosen to be part of a 3-year program of cultural integration. He was immersed in the language and customs of the Babylonians. He was to eat food from the king’s table, which had been sacrificed to pagan gods. Daniel, which means Elohim (The One True God) is my judge, was given a new name, Belteshazzar, meaning Bel’s prince—Bel being the chief god of the city of Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar wanted Daniel to be totally indoctrinated in Babylonian culture. However, Daniel’s faith in the One True God could not be taken from him. As we read in Daniel 1:8, Daniel resolved not to be defiled by the king’s food and wine, nor did he allow himself to be defiled by the rest of Babylonian culture. He was determined to honor God and live under God’s plan for his life, despite the fact that everything around him was designed to draw  him into submission.

Scriptures – 1 Peter 5:6,8; Daniel 1:4-5, 8

Verses – Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Pe 5:6) But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine,… (Da 1:8)

Thought – In a culture that’s increasingly hostile towards God, we, as Christ-followers, have a decision to make and a battle to fight regarding who or what will be the dominating influence in our life. When you evaluate the influences in your life, in your decision making, would you say you are more influenced by God or by culture? To adequately answer this question, there are some key factors to consider. First, what entertains you? Would you say that what you watch, enjoy, read, follow, and listen to are more under the influence of God or culture. Do you consider whether those aspects of your life are pleasing to God? How do you spend your money? Do you treat your income (great or small) as a blessing from God and live with thankfulness, giving God the first fruits of all you have? Maybe you spend everything that’s coming in and more, with no consideration of God’s place in your finances. Do you use your voice to lift up others or do you take shots, gossip, and tear down? Is your self-worth about who you are in Christ, or who people think you are? It’s easy to be poisoned by culture and become ignorant to the fact that you’ve drifted far from God. You have a spiritual enemy, Satan, whose daily task is to indoctrinate you in the way of the world without your realizing what’s happening to you. You can easily slide into culture comfort, but you will never stumble into faithful obedience to God. It takes determination and resolve to live life under God’s influence. You must resolve, as Daniel did, to be undefiled by the world and hold fast to your faith in the One True God. You must decide in advance that you will make God-honoring choices as you walk each day under God’s hand.

Questions – In what area do you need a new resolve to be God honoring? How easy is it to be sucked into changing cultural beliefs? Give an example of something you realize is being indoctrinated into you/believers? How do you maintain your line in the sand and not isolate others from God’s truth? In what area is it easiest for you to hold fast to your resolve?

Response – Assess the areas mentioned in “Thought” above. Choose one area where you need to resolve to live under God’s influence rather than under culture’s influence. Draw your line in the sand. Ask God for wisdom and strength. Stand by your convictions. Continue to look at other areas where you need to make a new resolve.

Prayer – To You, Gracious Lord, The One True God, be glory and honor forever and ever! Your laws, your plans, your ways bring life and peace. Give me strength to ignore and stand against the influence of the culture around me. May I live humbly under your mighty hand and stand in your truth. In Jesus Name I pray amen.

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