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, July 31, 2015

Amish harvest scene (Mike Weber)
My brother Mike is visiting us from California and enjoys taking photos of the interesting scenes here in Lancaster County such as this Amish farm.
Click here for larger view.

"Let Us Dare To Be A Daniel!"

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"But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself" (Daniel 1:8). "At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent" (Daniel 6:4).

Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
Dare to make it known.

We've had a great growing season thus far and the crops are vibrant and healthy. One neighbor, a veteran farmer, told us the corn is as high as he's ever seen it.

A Daniel in the soybean field
We've noticed an interesting sight in some of the soybean fields. Growing up amongst the soybeans are lone stalks of corn such as the stalk above that we photographed near our church. We spoke to our farmer friends and they told us that these are from seeds the previous year when corn was planted in the fields. Some of the harvested grain spilled out of the harvester and germinated along with the intended crop, soybeans, in great part because of the abundance of rain early in the season.

No compromise album cover
As we looked at these lone survivor plants standing where they don't belong, it got us thinking about a spiritual application. It made us think of those who faithfully stand up for the Lord and His truth amidst fields of doubt, disbelief, and despair; those who refuse to bow before the false gods of the age whether literal or spiritual. Above is the cover to an album by musician Keith Green from some 35 years ago. The photo depicts a scene where the people are required to bow before the passing king. But one brave soul, true to his convictions, remains standing in uncompromising, obedient defiance. A soldier on a horse is pointing him out. We are left wondering what consequence he faced for doing the right thing in the eyes of the One True King (Exodus 20:3-6).

Daniel in his youthToday we challenge our readers; dare to be a Daniel. Some sixty years separate the events described in our two daily texts. The first describes Daniel as a young man separated from his family after being taken captive into Babylon. He made a purposeful resolution to stay true to his faith. I have always drawn strength and encouragement from this verse and consider the unseen influence of his parents and other godly leaders when he was young in equipping him for such a decision. Perhaps the prophet Jeremiah, who lived in the generation previous, had a role in Daniel's spiritual upbringing. At a young age he, along with his three friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, made the same decision mentioned in the first verse, "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself" (Daniel 1:8). God honored them for maintaining their convictions.

Daniel praying
The second verse describes Daniel as an old man, still faithfully serving God and admired even among his most ardent critics for his integrity. We find him late in his career serving in government office during the reign of Darius, who happened to be the third world emperor he served under. His righteousness and Darius' intention to further promote him prompted jealousy in the other leaders. They looked for a basis to make charges but were unable to find any. What a powerful testimony he had: "They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent." The events that follow led to the lion's den and one of the greatest stories of supernatural deliverance in the Bible.

What a steadfast man Daniel was! Every generation needs men and women like him. Surely we need such strong unwavering followers of Christ today! The specific sources of temptation may vary, but we all need to "purpose in our heart" that we will stay faithful to God and His truth. Like Daniel we need to be trustworthy. How do people view our character? Are we trustworthy? Have we made a purposeful resolve to stay faithful?  Let us take the proper steps to make sure that we are. "Let Us Dare To Be A Daniel!"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, I thank you for the "Daniels" of our day. Many of us grew up with fathers and mothers who not only taught us right from wrong, but modeled it daily in their relations with family and others. So many today are growing up without Biblical models or Scriptural instruction which has brought about much confusion about what is right and wrong, true or false. The power of Your inspired Holy Word reveals absolute truth and is taught by examples of people such as Daniel. He didn't allow fear, pride, or earthly ambitions to compromise his integrity. Even as Daniel stood the test while continually overcoming the tempter, I pray that You, Father, would help us to prove our loyalty to You when faced with daily temptations, especially the temptation to just go with the flow rather than to go with the guidance of Scripture. May our resolve to do good greatly lessen our temptation to do evil. Amen. 

Today's lesson prompted consideration of another brave figure in human history. Esther served during the reign of Xerxes who followed Darius. I wonder if she might have known Daniel when she was a small child? Like Daniel she took a courageous stand for truth and her faith is best summarized in her resolve expressed in 4:16 of the book bearing her name: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. "Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

Here is the complete text to the song "Dare To Be A Daniel" we quoted from in the first part of our message. What soul-stirring lyrics Philip P. Bliss wrote nearly 150 years ago.

Standing by a purpose true,
Heeding God’s command,
Honor them, the faithful few!
All hail to Daniel’s band!

Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
Dare to make it known.

Many mighty men are lost
Daring not to stand,
Who for God had been a host
By joining Daniel’s band.

Many giants, great and tall,
Stalking through the land,
Headlong to the earth would fall,
If met by Daniel’s band.

Hold the Gospel banner high!
On to vict’ry grand!
Satan and his hosts defy,
And shout for Daniel’s band.

More men like DanielI have a framed copy of another old hymn with a similar theme titled "More Men Like Daniel". It's not well known and in fact I have rarely seen it in a hymnal. Although written nearly 100 years ago, like all Godly truths, it is "forward compatible".

We need more men like Daniel to stand for God and right;
Men clean and strong, who hate the wrong,
And for the truth will fight.
When those controlled by evil, their base designs pursue,
We need more men like Daniel who never prove untrue.

We need more men like Daniel their virtue here to show;
Men bold, sincere, who know no fear when called to face the foe.
Though dangers dark may threaten, they crave not ease or rest.
We need more men like Daniel who boldly stand the test.

We need more men like Daniel whose faith defied the king;
Who knelt and prayed when plans were laid his shameful death to bring.
But God sent down His angel, His all to guard and shield;
We need more men like Daniel whose hearts will never yield. *

"More Men Like Daniel" Neal McAulay/Charles Gabriel © 1922 Homer Rodeheaver

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"No Compromise (Make My Life A Prayer To You)" 
Video  Keith Green

"Dare to Be a Daniel!"  Video 
Mennonite Hour Men's Quartet

"Dare To Be A Daniel"  Video  Brian Free

"Dare to be a Daniel" In the course of looking for music I found this full sermon by Alistair Begg  Video Outstanding! We enjoy hearing his sermons on our local Christian radio station. He's a faithful expositor of Scripture.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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