Daniel 1:8 Going Against The Norm

Cooked meal

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 this way. Daniel 1:8 

When being given something, most people will accept it without any questions or problems with it. The reason it is often accepted is that no one wants to offend the giver. They want to be grateful for what they are being given.

Along with not wanting to be ungrateful, they also do not want to go against the norm of society. If everyone is doing it, they feel they should do it also. They do not want to buck the system of what to do or not to do. In this way they will compromise their standards and beliefs.

While Daniel was in exile, he was promoted to being a chief official for the king with some others. They were given the best food and drink of the palace. Daniel chose to not eat the food, because it went against God’s chosen diet for him.

Peer pressure to go with the norm of everyone else is great in this world. People will very quickly compromise their standards to gain something or to gain the favor of someone else.

Many believers will often compromise their standards in the walk with God in order to fit in with society or a group of people. They begin to accept and do things that go against what God has told them not to do, just so they do not stand out and appear as ungrateful or as ‘holier-than-thou’.

However, God has called all believers to be separate from this world. They are to stand out as different, a peculiar people and holy unto God. Doing so will cause one to choose to go against the norm of this world, in order to prevent sinning against God in any way.

Think about the things God has told you to do or not to do. These can be anything written in Scripture or told to you by His Holy Spirit. Are you willing to compromise what God has told you in order to fit in with a certain group of people?

Seek God to give you strength to not compromise and step into sin. There is nothing that is worth the price of sinning against God. Do not allow yourself to give into pressure to compromise your walk with God, just to go with the norm.

I pray today that you will know God’s will for you; that God will fill you with His Holy Spirit; that you will be led by the Holy Spirit; and that you will not compromise your walk with God. 

Jeremiah 8:7 Knowing What God Requires

Migrating birds

Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord. Jeremiah 8:7 

Birds and animals are amazing creatures that follow God’s ways. They understand when they have to migrate to new areas or how to search for food or water. They do not have to be taught over and over again how to live their lives.

Their ability to do these things is something that God has built into them or He is guiding them in. All creation worships God and the animals are willing to obey God and do what He has required of them.

In this passage God points out that the birds know what to do and when, but His people do not know what He requires of them.

Specifically God is talking about the Israelites in this passage. They were His people whom He had called out of Egypt and made into a nation, yet, they would not follow Him or do what He required of Him. They continually lived in sin and followed false gods.

People today are not much different. There are many in the church who have professed a belief in Jesus, claiming to follow Him and to be a child of God. Yet, they continue to live in various sinful ways, refusing to change.

They appear to not know the ways of God, or are ignoring what God requires of them.

Everyone has faults or short-comings, but there is a difference in living in them and striving to overcome those faults. Many just give in and don’t really try to live as God requires.

Every believer must work at obeying all that God commands. He must get into God’s word and know what God requires of Him and then do it.

I pray today that you will know Jesus as your Savior; that you will know what God wants of you; that God will give you strength to obey Him; and that you will honor God with all of your life. 

Marriage: Divorce–Never!

Torn fabric

Divorce is something that is extremely common. One cannot go anywhere without meeting someone who is divorced, in the process of divorce, or thinking about getting a divorce.

Statistics of America state that about 41-50% of all marriages will end in divorce. The average length of a marriage in the United States is seven years.

In the church, the statistics may be slightly lower. Their average can be found at about 38% get divorced or are divorced already.

These statistics are just with first time divorce rates. There are many people who have been divorced more than one time.

The reason for divorce are numerous, but usually stem around the following: infidelity, lack of commitment, conflict or arguing. Many finish with reasons of infidelity, domestic violence, or substance abuse.

Abuse

With these types of statistics, divorce is a reality in this world. It is something that is found outside and inside the church. Very few people are not touched by divorce in some way or another, either they have been through a divorce or they know someone who has.

Knowing this, I want us to take a look at what the Bible says about divorce.

In the previous posts I looked at what marriage is. It is one man and one woman put together to become one (Genesis 2:22-24). Many will say that this is just the Old Testament and does not apply to us today.

The Pharisees came to Jesus asking about divorce and if it was lawful or not to do. Jesus repeats what was said in Genesis in both Matthew 19 and Mark 10. With those words that the man and woman are to become one, He also adds:

Matthew 19_6

So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. (Matthew 19:6)

The leaders wanted to know what Jesus had to say about divorce and He tells them that it should not happen at all.

“For I hate divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the Lord of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” Malachi 2:16 NASB

God hates divorce! It should not happen.

Why does God hate divorce? It is because He is a God of LOVE. He is Love. He wants His people to be people of love.

Divorce is not love. There is no love in divorce. There is no forgiveness. It is only hatred and selfishness. It only brings about pain and suffering for selfish reasons.

Love has absolutely no room for selfishness or hatred.

Some will say that divorce happened in the Bible and that Moses made provision for divorce. Jesus had something to say about this:

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way form the beginning.” Matthew 19:8

Stone heart

It was only out of the hardness of heart that divorce was ever allowed. This, again, does not show love. Love is soft and kind.

Now I know that there are some out there saying right now that I just don’t know or understand their situation. There are some that are being verbally, emotionally or physically abused, or some combination of all three. They will say that divorce is their only way out of the situation.

I do know that abuse does occur. I agree that it is horrible and can be life-threatening. However bad a situation is does not in any way allow for divorce. The only situation that Jesus says that allows for divorce was for sexual immorality–a spouse cheating on the other spouse sexually with another person.

Even then, divorce does not have to be the answer.

Think about life as a believer. Jesus promised that there would be persecution of every believer. He never promised that following Him would be easy or fun. He only promised that it would be worth it in the end.

Think about this situation: As a believer you are persecuted and abused–physically, sexually and emotionally. Does this give you the right to strike back in anger and hate? No.

Think about Jesus. He was perfect, never did anything wrong ever. Yet, He was abused, persecuted and killed upon a cross. Jesus endured whippings and beatings and a crown of thorns put on His head. Then as He was put upon the cross, He had to endure the pain of nails being driven through His hands and feet. And He had to endure the punishment of all sins of every person for all time. Then to top it off, His Father, whom He had been with for all eternity, turned His back on Him and struck Him.

Jesus crucified

How horrible! How wrong!

Yet, as Jesus was upon the cross He prayed that the Father would forgive them because they did not really know what they were doing. He forgave them of what they had done wrong.

And the whole reason for going through all that suffering was so that you may have life and be forgiven of your sins. This is real love.

You, as a believer, are to be just like Jesus–full of love and forgiveness. If you are going through persecution as a believer, does that give you the right to deny Jesus to get out of that persecution? NO! You are expected to endure the persecution, love your enemies and forgive them, just like Jesus did with you.

No where in the Bible does it give a believer the right to sin for any reason at all. Yet, many want to divorce, just because ‘we are incompatible’ or ‘he/she is abusive’ or for some other reason. None of these hold up under the command that no one should separate what God has put together.

Marriage may or may not be easy. Guaranteed there will be times that it will be difficult. There will be times that will seem like the most horrible thing on the face of the earth. Yet, marriage is supposed to be about love. One is love the other, no matter what.

Wedding vows with ring

Going back to the vows. Many said that they accept the other ‘for better or for worse’. This is often forgotten or ignored. You promised to live together for better or for worse, now wanting to get out of that promise because something is worse. You are to keep your vows before God. He will hold you accountable for every vow you made.

The other thing to remember is that with God all things are possible (Philippians 4:13). God can redeem your marriage. He can also give you the strength to endure all of the abuse that you may be going through. He can give you the love you need to love your spouse, even when that love is not returned and hate is given.

Just as your walk with God as a believer is not always easy, you walk in marriage may not always be easy, but it is worth it to love and fulfill your vow. Who knows? God may change the heart of your spouse and bring the spouse around to change his/her ways to a way of true love.

Rough path in forest

Divorce does not allow for change. It does not allow for love. It does not allow God to be the center of one’s life. It only brings about death and separation.

Do not allow death and separation to destroy your marriage. Hang in there and trust God to turn things around. Pray daily for strength and love to keep moving forward. Trust God to make the needed changes in your life and in the life of your spouse.

Now with this being said, I will say that there may be times when a spouse may have to move out to be safe from harm. Moving out is not getting a divorce, but staying safe. It still holds on to the hope that God will turn the marriage around.

Also if your spouse is an unbeliever and wants to get the divorce, than you are free to allow the spouse to get the divorce and you are released from your vow. However, you must not be the one to initiate or choose to get the divorce. Fight for your marriage.

Prayer with bible

I will be praying for your marriage. Praying that God will be the center of both of your lives and the center of your marriage. I will be praying that God will give you strength to love your spouse no matter what happens.

Ezra 4:4 Opposition Will Happen

Fire and water

Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. Ezra 4:4 

Doing something great will often have some great challenges to make happen. Beyond just the challenges of knowing how to do something great is the opposition that can occur.

Men and woman who are striving to do something great are often told that they are crazy and should not try to do it. The reason they are told that they are crazy and shouldn’t do it is for several reasons. Sometimes it is so different that others think it cannot really be done, and one should not waste it time trying. Other times it is out of fear of it actually working and getting done.

The Israelites had been put into captivity in Persia, yet, were given direct permission from the king of Persia to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple to God. As they had begun to do the work, the people around them worked hard to stop them. They tried to discourage them from finishing the work that they had started to do.

Fear of Christians accomplishing something is still around to this day. The world is an enemy to Jesus and does not want Him or His followers to ever accomplish anything. The thing that believers do is following and obeying God. They are working to build God’s kingdom here on this earth.

Any time a believer is doing God’s will, Satan and this world will rise up in opposition. He does not want the believer to be successful, because it means it will be his downfall. The world does not want it, because they can feel God’s judgement upon their lives in seeing the lives of believers.

God has or will call you to do something for His kingdom. It may be building a new temple or it may just be a simple thing of telling someone about Jesus. Either way it is doing something for Him.

As soon as you begin to do what God has asked of you, the world will begin to attempt to discourage you and stop you. They may say it is a waste of time and that it won’t work with just words. Or they may be physically violent against you.

Do not be surprised. There was opposition to the Israelites and against Jesus. You will receive opposition. Stay true to God and do what He has given you to do. Don’t be discouraged, God is with you.

I pray today that you will know the mission God has for you; that you will not be discouraged; that you will stay true to God; that God will give you strength to do His work; and that you be His witness.