Join us here in this post for weekly updates on our journey to Easter.
Dwelling in Daniel With The Discipleship Cycle: Week 1
Listening: “And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure-house of his god.” Daniel 1:2 NIVUK
Looking: Do I believe I am in God’s hands whatever the circumstances, or do I simply judge the circumstances according to my want?
Praying the ‘serenity’ prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Living: Consciously sifting through my daily responses, examining what my response needs to be in the light of this prayer.
Learning: God’s wisdom is not always my wisdom! When I take courage the reaction is seldom as negative as I fear.
Dwelling in Daniel With The Discipleship Cycle: Week 2
Listening: “The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.” Daniel 1:7 NIVUK
Looking: You can call me whatever you want, but you can’t change my identity.
Living: I am first and foremost a follower of Jesus, so this needs to be the focus of my ‘how’ I speak and act. When I am tempted to water down my answer to a question for example, not pretend, or avoid, or ignore.
Learning: When I respond to others, consciously rooted in my identity as a child of God, I do so with a greater sense of boldness and security concerning the consequences.
Dwelling in Daniel With The Discipleship Cycle: Week 3
Listening: “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself in this way.” Daniel 1:8 NIVUK
Looking: Lord I need your help to boost my resolve and reveal to me where I need to apply it. The new year lose weight resolution is flagging – maybe I need to see this as more than for my own benefit and health and regard it as a resolve training ground? Keeping Jesus front and centre each day whatever the agenda, time commitments and energy levels.
Living: Commit each day and every planned commitment, or meeting to God. Look for what he’s up to in each and every one, as well as in the people I meet.
Learning: The more I see things and people through Jesus’ eyes, the more engaged I am and the more I seem to get out of each encounter.
Dwelling in Daniel With The Discipleship Cycle: Week 4
Listening: “Now God had caused the official to show favour and compassion to Daniel” Daniel 1:9 NIVUK
Looking: Who are the people of peace? Not where! Lord I need the eyes to see these.
Living: Asking God to show me who, or to open my eyes to see his favour from unexpected channels.
Learning: Consciously trusting I am in God’s hands and not simply at the beck and call of others’ responses is a releasing experience. Good things happen – thank you Lord.
Dwelling in Daniel With The Discipleship Cycle: Week 5
Listening: At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him. Daniel 2:16 NIVUK
Looking: Why these words? I’ve begun to look at where I’d be wise to ‘ask for more time’ before I respond etc.
Living: Simply bearing Daniel’s obvious wisdom in mind has led me to see where I’ve become accustomed to ‘winging it’ with preparation, in particular, may not result in my giving my best and more importantly, whilst I might deliver something ‘true’, ‘sound’ etc it I may not have listened to the Lord sufficiently for his word to be delivered as clearly, or pointedly as could have been the case. The answer lies with my planning in more adequate time for preparation.
Learning: If I don’t have time to deliver my best for what I’m committed to, either because I want to personally, or need to JD and role-wise, then I’m trying to do too much.
Dwelling in Daniel With The Discipleship Cycle: Week 6
Listening: King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Daniel 3:1 NIVUK
Looking: Hmmm. My hunch is Daniel & co recognised what Nebuchadnezzar was doing and what the image represented before they were asked to fall down and worship before it. Is there anything, or anyone I’m not recognising for what it is, a false idol? If do not recognise it, I may be fooled to worshipping it.
Living: Keeping my eyes open and tuning in my heart – starting with the things I love, or give energy to. Need to incorporate this into my time with God.
Learning: If I’m alert to the possibility, I can address it head-on if necessary. Prevention is also better than cure!
Dwelling in Daniel With The Discipleship Cycle: Week 7
Listening: Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. Daniel 4:8 NIVUK
Looking: It appears many people only come to consider God’s perspective, (which in the big picture of their life equates to the nature of their relationship with God, who they may not acknowledge even exists) as a last resort. I’m thinking about my 5 a day people and others – where are they now, in relation to God? Am I in the best place in my relationship with them to help them take another step closer?
Living: Need to find time to give space to ask Dave & Sarah (not their real names) how they’re doing.
Learning: Praying for people is one thing, but maybe I need to be more available to them. I at least need to provide that possibility and make it known, in case there’s no one else.
Dwelling in Daniel With The Discipleship Cycle: Week 8
Listening: Then Daniel answered the king, ‘You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means. Daniel 5:17 NIVUK
Looking: Living in a cultural environment where there is far less receptivity to the good news of the kingdom of God (than was) I need to look for the points of connection and listen for resonance between the values of the kingdom and whoever I encounter.
Living: What difference does this make? If it makes no difference in practice, does that equate to me making no impact on anyone else? Praying for encounters where I can experiment.
Learning: Doing something for someone else for no other reason than it is an act of kindness appears to be among the simplest and simultaneously most impactful things I can do. I don’t make enough time to consider such things, apart from when they arise – need to adjust this in some way, which may be as simple as asking the question (‘is there anything I can do’), regularly, when I pray for others.
Dwelling in Daniel With The Discipleship Cycle: Week 9
Listening: “Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the chief ministers and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.” Daniel 6:3 NIVUK
Looking: To distinguish yourself takes commitment and hard work. To do so for a system, which can threaten everything on which your life is founded calls for another dimension to both (and no doubt way more besides). My life is not under threat in the same way as Daniel’s, so (in theory) there is no barrier to my investing in things I am passionate about – so why don’t I?
Living: I’m working through my diary to put in time and space which reflect my priorities before I know which tasks need to be done (ie weeks ahead).
Learning: As I try to re-order my diary to better reflect my priorities I’m discovering I still allow less important, or urgent things crowd out my time already committed. In practice I appear to be more concerned about letting someone else down than letting God down by taking the foot off the pedal of my prior commitments to him. Try again!
Dwelling in Daniel With The Discipleship Cycle: Week 10
Listening: I, Daniel, was deeply troubled by my thoughts, and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself.’ Daniel 7:28
Looking: Daniel was ‘deeply troubles’ having been ‘disturbed’ (15). Where am I being disturbed, what troubles me? I need to review to check the source my disturbances – for if they are of God then the resolution may not be found in seeking peace within me, but to allow their outworking elsewhere. Either way, I shall keep my conclusions to myself, like Daniel.
Living: This is helpful. Where anything which could disturb me is not of God, I draw strength from Him to maintain my ‘resolve’ (that word again from the beginning) to honour Him.
Learning: When I say ‘no’ because I believe it is the place to stand to remain true as a follower of Jesus, I am at peace and any continuing ‘flack’ does not disturb me. This is remarkable when I reflect on it all beginning with disturbance from God. I need to pay more attention to the things that disturb in the future.
Dwelling in Daniel With The Discipleship Cycle: Week 11
Listening: “I, Daniel, was worn out. I lay exhausted for several days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding.” Daniel 8:27
Looking: How often do I assess what God is saying (from scripture) or what’s he’s calling me towards (discernment) by my response and how I feel about it? I need to give some time to reflect on this.
Living: Praying for the boldness to speak out of conviction: despite knowing the response to me personally may well not be one I appreciate or desire.
Learning: In the one opportunity to put this into practice, I came away content; I had at least expressed my belief in what I believed God is saying to me in the particular situation. What the response will be is still out of my hands and I’m content with that also.
Dwelling in Daniel With The Discipleship Cycle: Week 12
Listening: “Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favour of the LORD our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth.” Daniel 9:13 NIVUK
Looking: Daniel identifies and owns his sin & I need to look at mine. Daniel says ‘we’ despite his clear stand and living a life, which arguably knew God’s favour – so where do I need ask God for mercy and stand with others, the church, the nation? Do I seek the ‘favour’ of the Lord above that of everyone else?
‘Clinging too much to our desires easily prevents us from being what we ought to be and can be’ (Bonhoeffer) – ouch!
Living: Praying for the day ahead – that I may look to God and only be concerned about his favour. This kind of daily prayer has slipped and I need to re-build the habit.
Learning: In our world today inconsistent moral behaviour on the part of those who claim to follow Christ devalues the Christian faith and causes people to mock it. What the leaders and many of the people in Judah had failed to see was that God does not have any favourites whose sins he simply disregards. God is no respecter of persons, no matter from which nation or level of society they come. (John Lennox Loc 289 in ‘Against the Flow’)
Choosing to overlook my sin is simply denial and avoidance, by which God is not fooled. Short accounts with intention to do differently next time is my aim here.
Dwelling in Daniel With The Discipleship Cycle: Week 13
Listening: “Then he continued, ‘Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.” Daniel 10:12 NIVUK
Looking: Whether ‘since the first day’ was three weeks, or a longer time referred to, it was not immediate. But God’s response was – it’s just that the communication of that was not.
Can I pray with confidence God hears and responds right now? and subsequently pray in the light of that?
Living: Again about a daily confidence God hears right here, right now. Reminding myself in case I forget!
Learning: I don’t seem to be any good at tracking those prayers I simply leave with God, believing and trusting he’s responding, against others, (and there really seems no point to this anyway) so trying to put all my prayers in this frame is better.
Dwelling in Daniel With The Discipleship Cycle: Week 14
Listening: “He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.” Daniel 11:45 NIVUK
Looking: The end of a whole chapter which is a passing on the revelation Daniel has received. Daniel simply passes on the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
It’s not simply a question of not being popular, or friends not liking him on Facebook, but a risk to his life and those of those closest to him.
Living: Bringing this into preaching and speaking. I think I can sometimes avoid passing on ‘the truth’, not because of the impact it might have upon my life (as with Daniel), but theirs – this is not how Jesus operated.
Learning: Focusing on the truth is less stressful, longer term, even if the immediate response is less than positive.
Dwelling in Daniel With The Discipleship Cycle: Week 15
Listening: “‘At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people – everyone whose name is found written in the book – will be delivered. He replied, ‘Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.” Daniel 12:1, 9-10 NIVUK
Looking: I’m hearing the sense I need to keep going on my way, confident God has given enough light to guide my steps into the known and unknown future, trusting where I can see and when I cannot see in Him.
Living: Praying each day I might walk fully in grace and truth, as it seems these are helpful parameters in which to operate.
Learning: Where I step beyond living grace-fully, I can rely upon the grace of God to draw me back within that place. Where I step beyond living truth-fully, I can rely upon the truth of God to pull me back. Living out of the fulness of both is becoming my daily prayer.
Look out for updates to this post for next weeks’ Dwelling in Daniel.
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