Daniel 1:17—God gave these four young men knowledge and understanding in every kind of literature and wisdom. Daniel also understood visions and dreams of every kind.
Daniel, probably in part because of my given name, has always been my hero. In studying his Old Testament prophetic book that contains his story, there are at least five superb applications that ought to inspire us to be like him.
Colossians 1:9,10—For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.
In his book Younger Next Year cowritten with Chris Crowley, Dr. Henry Lodge states that “Over 50% of all illness and injuries in the last third of your life can be eliminated by changing your lifestyle in the way we suggest.” The major way they suggest is to exercise forty-five minutes a day six days a week. Four of those workouts are aerobic and two involve weight training. The reason most people grow weak and more susceptible to disease is directly attributed to their failure to exercise!
Knowledge is the gateway to freedom. But my freedom may cause another to become shackled. When this happens, the fragrance that once surrounded my thinking becomes a stench before God. Let me give a hypothetical cultural example. From Scripture, I learn that I am to love people. In American culture, it is common and acceptable in most situations for a man to hug a woman. Let us say I travel to India where such action is frowned upon. Because of my knowledge of Scripture and my own culture, I have no problem hugging an Indian woman in the presence of my Indian brothers because I am free to express love with no sense of guilt or temptation. Now two things have occurred.
The certainty of knowing is a medicine of incalculable worth. I breathe knowing unseen air is present in this room. I know (brake inspections help), my Subaru will slow down when I push my foot against the pedal. If I miss eating several meals I am aware that I will easily get cold outside. After 23 years of marriage I have a good sense of what my wife will or will not do. What I know shapes my behavior, reflects my beliefs and gives me a confidence that ignorance could not manufacture.
Spring is a tremendous spiritual illustration. Outside my window buds are bursting. The grass grows at a weekly clip but those green blades are in slow motion compared to the weeds. Winter is over. The great plant race is on and the God Who saw that creation was good is still watching.
Moses was a highly educated man, taught by the finest scholars of Egypt. But with all his knowledge he tried to fix the injustices he observed through his own strength and God had to place him with shepherds, stripped of all that was familiar until a burning bush captured his eyes. Then he listened to God’s voice.
You walk outside to pick up your mail when a brilliant flash momentarily blinds you. Before you hovers a Being of glorious light—it is the Lord. You reach out your hand and welcome Him and ask Him to come inside. How exciting you think, a chance to show your Savior your home. So you walk Him around. “Look Lord at the beautiful wallpaper we used in our family room. Oh, you must come up and see the hot tub—our favorite hangout. In here is where the kids sleep. Watch out for all the toys—I really wish they’d pick up after themselves. By the way, check out the new wheels I got in the garage. Isn’t this a sweet SUV!” Time out.
If love was a waterfall one would be thoroughly drenched by the Ferraros. In a small town in Illinois, this family radiates what happens when God permeates a household. What strikes me most about them is their commitment to live simply so as to give as generously as possible to support Christians on the frontlines for their faith-men and women who serve in organizations like Gospel For Asia and Voice of Martyrs.
Quarantine is a condition of forced isolation often imposed upon those with a contagious disease, or to determine if someone is in fact infected. My computer has the capability to quarantine off sectors in which a virus has been discovered. This built-in protective measure is intended to keep my hard drive from crashing!
A man walked into his garden distressed. As he bent to water his plants he noticed the pathetic condition of the snail-eaten leaves. Beside the plant grew weeds making it hard to discern friend from predator. What an overwhelming battle he thought. What chance has beauty to blossom against the constant threat of bug and weed? Yet as he looked more closely, he observed strong vibrant shoots emerging from weary stems. Then the Lord spoke to him.
Psalm 10:1--Lord, why do You stand so far away? Why do You hide in times of trouble?
Ecclesiastes 7:10--Don’t say, “Why were the former days better than these?” since it is not wise of you to ask this.
Jeremiah 12:1--You will be righteous, Lord, even if I bring a case against You. Yet, I wish to contend with You: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the treacherous live at ease?
Habakkuk 1:13--Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, and You cannot tolerate wrongdoing. So why do You tolerate those who are treacherous? Why are You silent while one who is wicked swallows up one who is more righteous than himself?
Matthew 13:10—Then the disciples came up and asked Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”
Mat.17:19--Then the disciples approached Jesus privately and said, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
There is a strong tendency in Christianity to measure our understanding of God and our relationship with Him by our circumstances. God encourages us not to be proud over our brains, our muscles, or our bucks. His advice implies that if we are to be proud it should be in knowing Him. It is easy isn’t it to be content with God when we are in control for we feel secure about tomorrow! Yet when the hurricane unexpectedly turns and twists our serene plans to chaos then what do we think of God?
Reveration means reverent-adoration. It is a word I created after studying one of the most overlooked major themes of Scripture—the fear of God. If love for God is food than reverence for Him is water. We need both to nourish our relationship. Love devoid of respect is emotionally unstable causing people to perceive God as some sort of cosmic Genie. Respect without love is mechanically rigid such that people approach God from a sense of duty, concerned with failing, convinced that He is a harsh Judge.
Romans 10:2--I can testify about them that they have zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.
Would you agree it is quite enjoyable to watch people grow spiritually? Yet often the growth that is so evident to us in others goes unnoticed by the one being observed. I suppose in one respect it’s similar to watching the changes in my children as they extend vertically. On the white painted wall behind our bedroom door is a ladder of pencil marks each proclaiming a new climb in inches. Periodically they will ask my wife or me to measure them to see how they are doing in their quest for height. Without that pencil-marked wall, each of my three kids would have a tough time gauging their growth.