When you start something new, do you firmly decide on a course of action?
When I left home for college, I resolved to do two things: I decided to find the answers to the many questions I had about Christianity. I also planned to have fun at the same time.
I had lots of questions. I never abandoned my belief in God and in Jesus Christ. My questions were more about why I should not or should do certain things. For instance, the church I had been brought up thought it was wrong to go into bars or pubs.
I wish I could have battled through my questions in the church, instead I feared people would think me rebellious.
So, I saw myself as a bad Christian, who God couldn’t possibly love because I didn’t just accept the things people said I had to do, or not do, to be a good Christian.
I headed off to university determined to discover if the many things I had been told were sinful, were actually wrong. I discovered a lot of them were fun.
My resolve was to get answers, which I got from the lifestyle of those around me.
If I had gone to college knowing God really loved me and being firmly grounded in my faith, instead of shaky, things would have been different.
This is what we see with Daniel.
Right at the beginning of Daniel’s story we are told he resolved. I prefer the translations that use the word purposed. They say: But Daniel purposed in his heart.
Too often commentators move quickly on to talk how Daniel resolved not to eat the king’s food. But, I want us to linger and think some more about this phase purposed in his heart because it is important.
I’m inclined to think Daniel’s resolution started before he got to Babylon. I think he decided at some point in his young life as he learned about God, as he was taught the Jewish faith, that he would be wholeheartedly devoted to God. He worked out his beliefs while it was easy to do so and not when his belief system was challenged.
Daniel put down roots, by purposing in his heart, long before he got to Babylon.
By doing this, when Daniel got into a godless situation surrounded by people who challenged his faith, he was already grounded and could stand firm.
Maybe the long journey to Babylon gave him an opportunity to think and consider what was ahead and how he would respond. Perhaps he used it as a time to pray and promise God from the bottom of his heart he would remain faithful.
God selected Daniel to be in training as a Babylonian. God did this because he saw the integrity in this student’s heart. God saw a young man who would stand firm and glorify Him.
When required to do more than he could take, when asked to do something that contradicted his beliefs, Daniel was determined to stay true to God.
Daniel’s new life may have made him look like a Babylonian on the outside, but what was going on inside mattered more.
Daniel solidly trusted in God.
So, my question for you is: what have you determined in your heart?
Sometimes we can get so caught up with doing the things that look right, and make us look good, we forget about the condition of our hearts. But, our hearts are the most important thing to get right. Scripture tells us God looks at the heart. When God looks at your heart, what does he see?
It’s never too late to take the time to get your heart right before God.
We can reach for our goals in our work or studies while holding onto what we believe, but we can’t do this until we have purposed in our hearts to stay true to God.
If you want to find satisfaction in what you do while you practice your faith, then work out your heart beforehand. Work out what you are going to believe and decide in your heart when it is easy to do so.
#BeBold – purpose in your heart to follow God.
My God, I resolve to stay true to you whatever the circumstances around me. My heart’s desire is to be fully committed to you in the situations you place me. Amen.
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Linking up with Natalie Venegas at Salt & Light, with Susan B. Mead at #DanceWithJesus, with Arabah Joy at Grace & Truth
Rachel, your words remind me of the importance of our churches functioning as a safe place for questions. And our dining room tables as well.
Praying for you and all involved in the upcoming retreat.
I grew up with that as well. I knew people who didn’t want to get pizza because they served beer, I asked them if they went to the grocery story. People are going to think what they want anyway or gossip. Personally, I think it is better to be filled with the Spirit as most people can’t handle alcohol and there are lots of ways young people or anyone can can get drawn into sinful things but I walked right up to the bar of local restaurant and asked for dinner gift certificates, there was a time i could not have done that. Be blessed and safe, the Holy Spirit will guide young people, you can have fun, stay a Christian, and not get into trouble. Thanks, Rachel.
Love this message to resolve before something comes along to tempt us. Makes me think of my wellness choices also! I actually had a post on this today to plan ahead or resolve to make better wellness choices before the holiday temptations arise. Great word today!
Love that, Jill. Our resolve can apply to so many different things that tempt us.
So, first. The beginning of this post could have been my story. Word for word. Second, this is something I’m working on with my boys now. I can’t remember where I heard this idea of deciding before you’re questioned. But you nailed the principle here. I wish I’d worked things out in my heart with God before I was challenged by the world. I pray I can coach our kids to do decide early with God. Blessings!
Good, good stuff! Thank you for this post. No matter what goes on around me, I purpose in my heart to follow God!!