By Linda Nelson
There is a carefully crafted, sustained battle challenging what God has declared about you; Here’s what you need to do to stop it.
“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem and besieged it.
And Nebuchadnezzar instructed his servant to bring some of the children of Israel and some of Judah’s descendants to him.
He took the young men, who were good looking, without fault, and wise, because he knew that they could be taught the ways of the Chaldeans and serve in his palace.
Nebuchadnezzar changed their names and gave them daily provisions of his food and wine. And these young men were required to train for three years so they could serve him. Among these young men were Daniel and his three friends.
But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with King’s Nebuchadnezzar’s food or wine, and he requested permission not to eat the king’s food.– Daniel 1: 1-8
From the beginning, satan has been intent on separating us from what God has declared over our lives. As soon as Adam and Eve made the decision to come into agreement with the enemy, they formed a covenant with the opposition and allowed him to enter the place that was reserved for God. His goal was to obliterate their potential, redirect their focus, and use the gifts and talents God had given them for his own purpose (I Peter 5:8).
Every time we read a newspaper, or a magazine, and every time we turn on the television, there is a message telling us that we aren’t good enough. For Christians that message is in direct opposition to God’s declaration in Genesis He had formed us out of the dust of the ground and proclaimed it “very good.”
God, who is sovereign, makes no mistakes. Yet, we are continually at odds with our sexuality, our appearance, our economic standing and our social position. We clamor to be like everyone else (I Samuel 8:4-7)- we long to fit in, to be liked and to be validated in a world that doesn’t love us when the Lover of our very souls has already told us that we alone are good enough.
Daniel and his friends were plucked out of Judah and planted in Babylon. God allowed it. He always has a plan. The test for Daniel and his friends was to resist the Babylonian way so God could use them in that place. In order to accomplish this, they couldn’t eat the king’s food. They were in Babylon, but they were not a part of it. They belonged to God.
Brothers and sisters, we are in Babylon! Our mission like Daniel’s is to stand flat-footed and declare the truth of the living God. But in order to carry out this assignment, we cannot waver on who we are and we can’t be distracted by the many voices in the world. Any Instability about our identity will cause us to make decisions out of insecurity and will prevent us from accomplishing our purpose. It is imperative that we remain focused on the big picture. Here’s what we must do.
1) Believe God
As God’s sons and daughters, our job is to trust God’s plan. In order to do that, we have to believe that He has our best interest at heart.
The serpent caused Eve to question who she was and then offered her something she thought was better. Today, it’s the same story. We can’t be flawless enough. The bodies we came here with are wrong. Our hair is too oily or too kinky. Our skin is too pale or too dark. We’re either not smart enough or have become too smart for our own good and are now bored with the simplicity of life and so we run after useless stuff that we believe will keep us entertained only to discover that we soon become tired of that too.
If Adam and Eve was anything like me, they had already thoroughly examined that forbidden tree. They probably had already circled it, and held the fruit from it, smelled it and rolled it around in their hands. That’s what we do- we test boundaries.
God didn’t make us robots, but He did make our thinking minds to be used for His glory. He made us unique for His purpose. He gave us a free will to decide because it’s so much sweeter when your children choose to love you, obey you and trust that you have their best interest at heart, believe that It’s going to be okay even when we don’t understand. Believing God is the key to our success in this counter culture in which we are immersed.
But what has happened to our contentment of believing that God created us on purpose? And where is the satisfaction of knowing that we are His children who are called by His name, and created for dominion despite our current station? How do we forget that when God created us, He declared it very good without obsessing that “This one’s nose is too big” or “That one over there is unlikable”?
My first grandchild, A.J., was diagnosed with Autism when he was 3 years-old. When we got the diagnosis, we were devastated, and questioned God’s purpose for A.J.’s life. Almost 10 years later, A.J. continues to struggle with behavioral issues and frequent tantrums. His parents are exhausted and sometimes I feel helpless as a grandmother. I have bombarded God with my prayers for my grandson, and I admit I have felt fearful and sometimes abandoned by God. This is where the enemy comes in and whispers a word of opposition.And this is where we get to decide.
God’s word of unwavering love and a promise to give us hope and future has never changed even though I can’t see it, God always has a plan (Jeremiah 29:11).
In the book of Daniel, Daniel and his friends were prisoners of Babylon. They had been snatched away from their home and families and put into one of the most powerful world systems in existence. They had been stripped of their identities and forced to learn the ways of an opposing nation. It looked as if they had no power. At that moment, it seemed as if God had abandoned Israel and overlooked every promise He’d made to Abraham. Daniel had to decide whether to believe that God or to give in to what he saw and heard around him. Sometimes it’s easier to give in, but God didn’t promise us easy, He promised us victory.
2) Determine Who You’re with and Who’s with You
Who you hang out can determine your success. Being with the right group is a display of who you are and your potential.
The men that rode with David were warriors. They were men who lived on the fringes of society, but they were committed to David and his mission.
They loved David’s passion for God and they risked their lives for the cause. When people heard of them they knew what they were about. They knew that they didn’t play and were about the business of establishing order.
My husband and I are in the same posse. Our hearts belong to God and His purpose and although we don’t always agree or understand each other, we are committed to the cause.
Daniel and his friends decided to stand together in Babylon. They determined to believe what God had said about them in the midst of one of the most powerful world forces at the time. They trusted they were in that place, but that place could not be in them. And God brought them out.
We live in a culture that is hostile to the things of God and the name of Jesus, Surrounding ourselves with strong passionate unwavering Christians who know their identities will help us remember who we are.
Take a look around at your friends. If they don’t share and support your faith or the mandate that God has given you, maybe they shouldn’t be a part of your inner circle. Who are you hanging out with? Are they going in the same direction? Are they like minded?
3) Remember Why You’re Here
And God created man in His own image- male and female. He blessed us and commanded us to be bountiful, productive, prosperous, successful and fill the earth with others just like us. He We are here to restore order into the chaos and to be living, breathing, walking examples of Him.
We are to speak what we hear Him speak and to demonstrate His ways. Then God will take care of all the other stuff that distracts us and keeps us awake at night.
4) Get Planted
Get connected to a body of believers. The church is a power house of support and connection and a place of planting. The church gives us foundation and covering. Miracles happen when Christians come together to worship God and there is a strength that comes to us when we are connected to other Christians. In Paul tells us not to take lightly the importance of gathering with one another in Hebrews 10:25.
No matter what kind of week or day I’ve had, when I walk into my church I know that it is a place of refuge and peace and the place where we gather to celebrate our King.
The church gives us foundation, reinforces our purpose and creates an atmosphere of faith and strength. There is something beautiful that happens when we come together.
5) Use Your Weapons
Adam and Eve fell for the enemy’s tactics and we still suffer the consequences. But the second Adam, who is Jesus, came, focused and ready for battle. Jesus made it His business to show us how to shut the enemy down! Genesis 4:3-11.
Once again satan crept in just when he thought Jesus was vulnerable- He was hungry and had been in the wilderness for 40 days- His flesh was weak, but His spirit was strong as the enemy crept in to question the very thing that God had just declared; “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
That’s what God is saying about us. We are His. He has already endorsed us.
Paul knew adversity and persecution and he knew the challenges that Christians face when he encouraged us to use our spiritual weapons.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the spiritual forces of wickedness. Take up the full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Don’t wait until you get weary or discouraged to play catch up on bible study or your prayer life. Keep feeding your spirit with the word of God that is alive, and the Spirit of God who is with us always. Consciously surround yourself with people who will stand with you and encourage you when you can’t see God.
Daniel and his friends endured a lot. They were placed into a fiery furnace and later, Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. his friends were place in a fiery furnace. but because they determined not to allow the culture they were in infiltrate them, they qualified for service and God’s protection.
And God granted Daniel favor with the commander who for ten days, allowed Daniel and his friends to refuse the food that the king offered to them. And at the end of the 10 days, their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king’s food, and God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every area of literature and wisdom, and He gave Daniel understanding for all kinds of dreams and visions”- Daniel 1:8-17
Father, thank you for creating us in exactly the right way. Help us to ignore the voices of opposition and to believe that we are Yours and that we are good enough. Help us understand that you are always in our corner fighting for us and pushing back the darkness over our lives. And thank you for always standing at the ready with outstretched arms when we miss it and have to come back. Strengthen us on this journey so that we can get to the places you've assigned us to and accomplish the things that we were created for. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Walk it out!