We are at the beginning of a New Year, so we have an opportunity to do it right this time. We don’t want to carry the defeating patterns of last year into this New Year. You form the habit and then the habit forms you—good or bad.
In Daniel Chapter 1, Daniel’s character was tested, plus his prophetic and interpretive skills were developed. This took place over a 3 year training period, and then he went on and became great. Here are five things we can learn from Daniel as we prepare for success in the New Year:
1. Daniel dealt with his past and refused a spirit of bitterness.
Daniel had to overcome a bad past. But he never let his bad past separate him from his belief in a living, all-powerful God, nor from his love and concern for God’s people and God’s work.You think you had a bad past? Daniel and his three friends were children of the King of Israel. They saw Israel and Jerusalem destroyed, their families and friends brutally killed, and then they were taken away and made into eunuchs. You talk about cause for bitterness, hopelessness and despair! There was no hope of living a normal life, having children or a family. This was a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy to King Hezekiah found in Isaiah 39:7. We all have a past, the question is, ‘does the past have you?’ What you won’t let go of won’t let go of you.
Another one of God’s great men—Joseph—had two children and he gave them names that spoke of God’s mercy and grace in his life (Genesis 41:51-52). Notice the order:
a. Manasseh means “God has made me forget all my toil and all my father’s house.”
b. Ephraim means “God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
Joseph and Daniel both started out in a pit and ended up in a palace because they refused to be a prisoner of their past or let bitterness rule their present and ruin their future. Both men found a purpose bigger than them and poured their lives into it.When you find a God given purpose and pour your life into it, you will also find healing from the past and grace to forgive and go on. Nothing brings healing to a bad past quicker than a Holy Spirit filled future.
2. Daniel was sold out–completely devoted to God.
“The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits” (Daniel 11: 32).The prerequisite for being strong and doing exploits is knowing God in an intimate and personal way; it’s not enough just to know about God, you must truly know Him. Revelation comes from relationship!
3. Daniel had a disciplined lifestyle and developed good habit patterns.
a. Daniel was a student of the Word. He found Gods prophetic plan in the Word and this is what enabled Daniel to start praying, and keep praying and fasting, for three weeks until his answer came (Daniel 9:2-3).Read the Word daily until something comes alive in your spirit. The Word makes dead things come alive. That’s what put new life in Sarah’s womb. It is what kept Caleb strong at 85 years of age.
b. Daniel had a regular disciplined prayer life: “He knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days” (Daniel 6:10).Pray daily no matter how busy you are! If you do, God promises to “direct you” (Proverbs 3:6). The difference between drifting and being directed is in “acknowledging Him.”
c. Daniel had healthy eating habits. How much do you want to win? Daniel’s flesh was under the control of his spirit and the Word of God (Daniel 1:8, 12-16). He lived a fasted life and when necessary had no problem with an extended fast: Daniel fasted 21 days in Daniel chapter 10.
4. Daniel was decisive and daring.
Daniel knew what he believed—what his standards and his values were—and refused to compromise on his beliefs (Daniel 1:8-10). Daniel’s friends took the same stand. When your objectives and values are clear it makes decision making easier. Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den because he refused to stop praying to His God (Daniel 6:22). This year instead of making an excuse, make a commitment.
5.The reward of obedience is the development of an excellent spirit.
“Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him” (Daniel 6:3).Today’s obedience helps develop an excellent spirit within us and positions us for breakthrough, blessing and promotion tomorrow.
Without obedience you will stay in the realm of potential. “God had brought Daniel into…favor” (Daniel 1:9). “God gave [Daniel and his friends] knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom” (Daniel 1:17).
Daniel was a God-made man not a self-made man. If you are self-made, then you must be self-sustained and if self-sustained it isn’t too long before you self-destruct. God specializes in taking nobodies and making somebodies out of them. God likes to start with nothing, then there is no doubt about who gets the glory in the end (1 Corinthians 1:26-30).
This month we are going to put our flesh under and get our hearts and minds still, so we can hear what the spirit of God is saying to us. Daniel set a great example, and we have “a better covenant, which was established on better promises” (Hebrews 8:6). As we begin the New Year—Dare to be a Daniel!
Together we can become world changers and History Makers!!
Dr. George Hill