Daily Discipline

by Colleen Donahue

Suppose you walked to the picture window in your living room and looked out over time. When you looked to the left you saw all the things that have happened and when you looked to the right you saw the things that will be occurring in the future. The scenes startle you when you realize that you stand in the brief place called "This Present Moment" and it is all you have.

Our study over the next few months will be like walking to that picture window and looking out over time. When we talk about the Book of Daniel we can remember as children the story of Daniel in the lion's den and of God's special deliverance at that time. While that is a wonderful story with application today, you will find as I have that the whole book is like a gold mine of truth waiting to be dug. While we have skimmed off a few stories from the book that are often told we have left the real wealth in the ground.

Daniel was a historic man that was born into a Judean family of nobility about 621 B.C. which is about the time that a great Reformation of Religion was going on in Israel under King Josiah.The Jews were God's own people that were offered world supremacy on condition of their obedience to God (Deut.28:1). They did not comply and thus around 605 B.C. God withdrew the offer and gave it to the Gentiles (ie. those not of Jewish origin ).

Daniel lived therefore at a time in history that Jesus called "the time of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24). It was to be the time that Gentile nations had (and still have) world supremacy. This "time of the Gentiles" began with Jewish captivity to Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar and it will end with the 2nd coming of Christ (Luke 21:24-27)

Daniel was only a teenager when the Babylonian armies swept into Jerusalem. He was among the captives in the first deportation to Babylon and he lived there over 70 years— the entire time of captivity. While for some, life seemed over, for Daniel it was to begin. God had called him to be His representative to the courts of Babylonian monarchs and prophet to the Jews and Gentiles alike.

This book we are about to study is classified "Apocolyptic" which means "revelation". It is the only Old Testament book of this type (just as Revelations is the only one in the New Testament.) The events are unfolded mainly by visions, imagery and symbolism. The book is written in two languages: some sections in Hebrew, (the national language of the Jews) and some sections in Aramaic (the international language of the day).

Daniel wrote (by inspiration of God's Spirit) detailed descriptions of the destinies of Gentile nations under the sovereign hand of God. Now, centuries later, we are going to stand at our picture window and verify that all has happened as God predicted. Then we will look at what is to come. In the meantime, we have "this present moment" and action is needed today. So, let's start digging together until we strike gold! Let's begin our study of...

DANIEL- Part 1

I. Living by Convictions Wherever You Are

Day 1 What was the historical situation in Judah? Daniel 1:1-2

Notice that King Nebuchadnezzar didn't take Jerusalem but that God gave it to him. Divine providence is always working behind the scenes.

Day 2 This sad day for Jerusalem was also the fulfillment of what Isaiah spoke almost one century earlier. 2 Kings 20:16-17 / Isaiah 39:5-6

Day 3 Daniel and many others were to pay for the sins of King Hezekiah. 2 Kings 20:18/ Isaiah 39:7

Note: While God does visit the sins of the fathers upon their children, (Exodus 20:5) He does not hold them responsible for their father's sins but rather for their own sin.

Day 4 We learn a great deal about Daniel and his comrades from the selection process King Nebuchadnezzar used to find noble Jews to serve in his court. What qualities did Daniel display that brought him this privilege? Daniel 1:3-4

Day 5 These chosen youths _ Daniel included—were to undergo total indoctrination into Babylonian thinking and culture. Even their personal identities were to be changed and each given the name of a Babylonian god. Daniel 1: 5-7

Day 6 The Jews were prohibited from eating certain meats as a sign of their separation to God. These foods were all to be part of the indoctrination. To eat them meant disobedience to God. What did Daniel do? Daniel 1:8

Day 7 The key to Daniel's dilemma in verse 1:8 is that word "resolved" or "purposed in his heart". He had made up his mind BEFORE temptation came to stand by his convictions. He did so not with an air of militancy or defiance but with a polite and respectful attitude tward his Babylonian superior. How did God respond to the desire of Daniel's heart? Daniel 1:9 (2 Samuel 22: 24-25)

Day 8 In times of testing, it is our convictions that will enable us to stand strong. These convictions come from our study of God's word, and what we have learned from parents, teachers, pastors etc. A solid faith in God must be the rock to stand upon in a world set against Him. 2 Samuel 22: 2-4, 31-34 / Matthew 7:24-27

Day 9 Our convictions are not necessarily those of others. Wisdom is needed to carry out our convictions. Otherwise we foster militancy and force others to stand by our convictions. Daniel 1:17 / James 1:5

Day 10 Daniel built a bridge of communication with the Chief of Eunichs and didn't let his own convictions put him on the spot. He proposed an experiment but then gave the Eunich the final say. Daniel 1:10-14

Day 11 God is in control. He is set to honor those that honor Him. We do not need to use our own force to maneuver our own way. 1 Samuel 2:30b / Psalm 50:15 / Psalm 62:1-2 / Psalm 91: 15

Day 12 A conviction can overcome any outer pressure because the power of God is on our side. Resolve as Daniel to stand and live by what you know to be right. How did God honor Daniel and his three friends? Daniel 1: 15-21 In the final test how much better were they than all the others? Daniel 1: 20

II. Circumstances Beyond Your Control

Day 13 Have you ever been included in a punishment knowing that you were innocent of the crime? Daniel woke up one day to find himself sentenced to death! Here is what happened… Daniel 2: 1-13

Day 14 No man or woman of God ever need panic because our God is in control of even the most desperate times. This is why Daniel could keep his head and take action with prudence and discretion. Daniel 2:14-16

Day 15 Our first responsibility during trials and trouble is to act as Daniel did. Daniel 2: 17-18

Day 16 The secret of getting out of trouble and of ending all worry and care is to pray. Philippians 4:6-7 / I Peter 5:7

And when we pray we must know without doubt that it is in God's nature to hear and answer our prayers. Hebrews 11:6

If it is in God's nature to hear and answer, then the genuine answer to prayer is to receive what we ask for. Matthew 7: 7-8 / John 15:7

Day 17 And so God gave to Daniel exactly what he needed. Daniel 2: 19

Day 18 And Daniel responded to God with a heart full of gratitude and praise. Daniel 2: 20-23 Do we give all glory to God when he answers our prayers?

Day 19 With the certainty of God's answer for our problems we are able to act in confidence as Daniel did. Daniel 2: 24

Day 20 Daniel could easily have gone to the king and proclaimed his own wisdom (even though he knew that it was from God.) But, ALL the glory went to God as he used the opportunity to tell this pagan king about a God in Heaven that is able to do the impossible. Daniel 2:25-30

III. The Future Foretold

Day 21 With his prayers answered, Daniel was confident he could go to the king to tell him his dream and interpret it as well. What was the dream that had troubled King Nebuchadnezzar so much? Daniel 2: 31-35

Day 22 In the interpretation of this dream God revealed to Daniel (and thus to us) what would happen during the interval between Israel's dispersion and their final regathering. Christ referred to these years as the "times of the Gentiles". What did the gold head signify? Daniel 2: 36-38

Day 23 As we look back into world history from today, we see that the Medes and Persians took over Babylon although both were inferior to it in wealth and power. The coalition of these two kingdoms are represented by the arms of silver. Following their reign, Alexander the Great came swiftly from Greece to take over the entire world at that time (signified by the belly of bronze). These are the second and third kingdoms Daniel speaks of in verse 39. Daniel 2: 39

Day 24 Again from our seat in time we look back and see that the great Roman empire was the next major world power divided into East and West. This kingdom is represented by the two legs of iron (Daniel 2:33a). When Rome directed the world threatre its strength was like iron and crushed the world into subjection. Daniel 2: 40 (It was into this time on earth that Christ was born).

Day 25 The two feet with 10 toes are to be the last form of Gentile world powers. There are two great divisions in this kingdom: East and West. As scholars and theologians have speculated about this last world power, it seems in the end there will be a Federation of Nations loosely held together by ties of danger and fear of one another. The iron and clay toes may signify the iron of totalitarianism and the clay of social democracy. These ideologies may mix but never really unite. Like iron and clay which are unstable mixtures, this federation will fail because it is not really a unit. It is for expediency only and not a sincere desire to help all humanity. These are the times in which we live and even now we are watching the formation of alliances to keep world peace. Daniel 2: 41-43

Day 26 It will be sometime after this final world federation that God himself will reestablish His own kingdom that will last forever. This is yet in the future. Daniel 2: 44-45 (The great stone that Daniel speaks of in verse 34 is Jesus Christ when He returns to earth for the second time.)

IV. Pagans See God

Day 27 When we accurately represent God, people will recognize and fear Him. Daniel 2: 46-47

Day 28 God, who so graciously answered prayer and spared many lives, also rewarded Daniel for his courage and faith and for taking no glory to himself. Daniel 2: 48

Day 29 Daniel in turn did not forget his prayer partners and showed the same generousity and love toward them as God had shown him. Daniel 2: 49

Day 30 And God who hears our prayers and sees our deeds will be faithful to care and provide for those of us that love Him. Psalm 62:12/ Jeremiah 17:10 / Jeremiah 32: 17-19 / Matthew 16: 27/ Revelations 22:12

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