Blameless

Then the other administrators and princes began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling his affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize. He was faithful and honest and always responsible. So they concluded, “Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the requirements of his religion.”

Daniel 6:4-5 (NLT)

Here is a man with wisdom and knowledge. This wisdom and knowledge has gained him great influence. Because of his influence, the other leaders become jealous and seek to find a way to destroy the man. Yet they cannot seem to find a way because the man in blameless. With no other options, they manufacture a way to catch him and have him arrested and killed.

Are we still talking about Daniel here?

A very similar story is repeated in the Gospels with the account leading up to Jesus’ arrest. Daniel’s story sounds a lot like the one that would play out centuries later.

So what’s the deal with these leaders who can’t stand to have a blameless person in their midst? The answer is right there—blameless. Daniel was able to accomplish more than all of the other advisors and princes were able to—without cheating or lying. He put them to shame because of his integrity. A worldly way of thinking just can’t handle the way of the blameless.

Read the news. Christians are still experiencing similar persecution. When the world doesn’t understand the way we live, they feel as though they must quash it. I believe it is because of their own shame that they do so. When Christians stand firm in their faith, it sends a message to a world that stands for nothing. And, to those who stand for nothing, it renders their existence meaningless. Can you imagine living a life void of meaning?

As Christians, our lives are full of meaning and purpose and we should do all that we can to live both of those to their fullest potential.

If is for the glory of God, when those who profess religion, conduct themselves so that their most watchful enemies may find no occasion for blaming them, save only in the matters of their God, in which they walk according to their consciences.

Matthew Henry

Paul tells us to find joy in trials of every kind because they make us stronger and build our faith. Daniel, after enduring a night with the lions was given even greater power than he had before. While I cannot guarantee that you’ll end up the third most powerful person in the country, I can guarantee that, when you stand before the Lord having held firm in your faith, you will hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Daily Bible reading: Daniel 5-6, 1 John 4

Continually

Have you ever mentioned a problem to an unbeliever and they look at you aghast as though you, a Christian, should be living a life free of trouble, pain, and/or difficulty? It is a sadly common misconception that Christians can and should live completely perfect lives.

Be to me a rock of refuge,
to which I may continually come.

Psalm 71:3 (ESV)

Note that David doesn’t say that he stays at the rock of refuge, but that he continually comes to it. Again and again. He didn’t run to the rock once and then everything was good from there. If you’ve read through David’s history, you know that he was plagued with trouble, both of his own making and of those conspiring against him.

But I will hope continually
and will praise you yet more and more.

Psalm 71:14 (ESV)

If God only saved you once, how much would you praise Him? If He saves you again and again, how much more will you praise Him?

You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
you will bring me up again.
You will increase my greatness
and comfort me again.

Psalm 71:20-21

Again and again and again. David saw more trials and tribulations than any one man should, yet God saw fit to bring Jesus out of David’s lineage. If believers were meant to live perfect lives, don’t you think God would have done something for David? Instead, David’s faith was continually increased and each time trials came, he turned to God. God gave him increase in every area of his life.

The issue is not whether or not we will experience difficulties, but rather what we do when they come. Do we wallow in self pity or stand up and proclaim that God is greater than our circumstance and He is always well-able to see us through?

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 70-72; Romans 4

Joy!

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.

James 1:2 (ESV)

Joy? Really? I’m supposed to have joy in trials?

I will readily admit that joy is not usually my go-to response to a difficult situation.

But what is joy? Joy is not equal to happy. Let’s set that one straight.

HAPPY: lucky, fortunate, successful, prosperous, having secure possession of good.

So if joy isn’t happy, what is it?

JOY: a delight of the mind, from the consideration of the present or assured approaching possession of good. To rejoice; to be glad; to exult.

In Acts, Paul and Barnabas stirred up a bit of a ruckus. They had spent several weeks preaching the Good News of Jesus and people were responding. Of course, the leaders of the city would have none of this and they stirred up people against the boys. Paul and Barnabas left the city, shook the dust off their feet and moved on.

And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 13:52 (ESV)

Were they happy that they got kicked out of a city where the population was responding to their message? I doubt it. Yet they still had joy because they still had a purpose and they still had the Holy Spirit. The leaders in the city couldn’t take that away.

The next time you face trials and difficulties, try to separate your happiness from your joy. Happiness comes and goes, by joy comes from the Lord.

Daily Bible reading: Job 33-34, Acts 13:24-52