January 28, 2016

Daniel 10:19 “Do not be afraid, O man highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.”
When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.”

How we behave is generally in line with how we see ourselves. What the angel did here was assure Daniel of his status (the Japanese says, “loved by God” where the NIV says “highly esteemed”) and then remind him of how a person of such status should be. It evidently had the desired effect! The Japanese does not just repeat “strong,” it uses a term for emotional strength first, and then says to be strong. When we know who we are in Christ, we display strength on all levels, often to the amazement of others and sometimes even our own! The Bible is filled with passages that tell us how much God loves us and values us, but until we take them in and believe them they are just words. Sadly, that is the status of vast numbers of Christians, even, not to mention the multitudes without Christ. As Ezekiel was told, in a passage we had recently, we need to “eat” God’s Word, take it in, digest it, and make it part of us. When we do that we find that it is indeed nourishment for every part of our being, with the possible exception of the physical, but the physical is certainly affected by everything else. Someone who is living out the Word is a mighty warrior indeed in God’s army, one of whom the devil is rightly afraid. Such a person takes their sense of self-worth from God rather than from the world, and so is strong against the multitude of temptations that the world throws at us. This is in no way self-promotion, but rather an assurance that if God said it, that settles it. Daniel was such a man, and he is an example to follow.

I have been aware that this was true for a long time, but I certainly haven’t walked in it fully. As I was telling others in the pastors meeting the other day, I have loved the letter of James for a long time because it is so practical. James 1:22 relates to this issue: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” Growing up immersed in Scripture gave me a head knowledge of the Bible from an early age, but letting it sink into my mind and heart was a different matter. I was already a father before I really woke up to how I had a shell of spiritual pride that kept me from living out God’s truth. When that shell was shattered it felt like it shattered me, but I am deeply grateful God didn’t leave me as I was. It would be nice if I could say that I have lived out the Word fully from that day onward, but it is a continuing adventure even today, well over 40 years later. I still need to choose to listen to God rather than to the world and the devil, but distinguishing those voices is certainly easier than it used to be. I need to evaluate everything on the basis of what God says and not let circumstances pull me down or pull me astray. If I will do that, I will indeed fulfill God’s plans for me, for His glory.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for speaking to all Your children all the time. I pray that I would be increasingly effective in helping Your children believe and understand that You really are talking to them, so that they may open their hearts to You more and more to let You operate in and through them, for their great blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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