Daniel: Overwhelmed Then Strengthened

We have been camped out in Daniel 10 for a few days as we continue to harvest some great concepts from the text.

As we have seen in Daniel 10, Daniel was fasting, mourning and seeking God’s help for 3 weeks. God will send Daniel answers and comfort, but we will see that God brings a powerful vision that completely zaps the strength from Daniel until he is face down and unable to talk.

When the divine messenger came to Daniel, Daniel was not immediately strengthened and comforted. What happened first? Daniel was overwhelmed by the visions, the mere presence, and the powerful voice of this being. The men who were with Daniel did not see the vision, but just the mere presence of this being brought trembling to those men to where they had to run and hide (verse 7)!

When Daniel saw the vision of this heavenly being (which may be Jesus here, not an angel):

(8) So I was left alone and saw this great vision, and no strength was left in me. My radiant appearance was fearfully changed, and I retained no strength.

As this being spoke to Daniel, here was the initial effect:

(9) Then I heard the sound of his words, and as I heard the sound of his words, I fell on my face in deep sleep with my face to the ground.

So, Daniel started out mourning, fasting and praying. He then sees the vision and is completely drained of all his strength. As the words of this spiritual being are spoken, Daniel goes into a trance-like state.

Then this heavenly messenger touched Daniel, but Daniel is still trembling.

(10) And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees.

Do you see how God is overwhelming Daniel with His power, His presence and His voice? Then and only then, does God lift Daniel up to comfort and strengthen him! This is so awesome, and this is how God works with us all, even if not through a miraculous vision. God wants us to be completely humbled, overwhelmed and in awe of His majesty, so that we can truly be lifted up by His strength.

Here comes the comfort to Daniel by this spiritual messenger.

(11) And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling.

(12) Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.

The words of this heavenly being silenced Daniel’s words and took the last bit of energy and strength from Daniel’s body:

(15) When he had spoken to me according to these words, I turned my face toward the ground and was mute.

(16) And behold, one in the likeness of the children of man touched my lips. Then I opened my mouth and spoke. I said to him who stood before me, “O my lord, by reason of the vision pains have come upon me, and I retain no strength.”

This is where God wants everyone of us so that we can be filled with His strength and holiness. Look at the question that Daniel asked in verse 17, and ponder it. This is so true. How can we talk with our Lord unless He gives us the strength to do so?

(17) How can my lord’s servant talk with my lord? For now no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.”

Once again, we see the comfort from the touch and words of a divine being:

(18) Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me.

(19) And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”

If we want God to speak to us, do you know what He is going to tell us? Well, in the next two verses we will see the answer. God will only tell us the truth!

(20) Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia; and when I go out, behold, the prince of Greece will come.

(21) But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince.

Daniel – For You Have Strengthened Me

And behold, one in the likeness of the children of man touched my lips. Then I opened my mouth and spoke. I said to him who stood before me, “O my lord, by reason of the vision pains have come upon me, and I retain no strength. How can my lord’s servant talk with my lord? For now no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.” Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”
(Daniel 10:16-19)

We’ve already looked at the fact that the visions that Daniel and others saw had an exhausting effect upon them. “By reason of the vision pains have come upon me, and I retain no strength.” God’s express purpose is to put these men into a position where they will need both strength and wisdom from him. Daniel will need strength to recover from what he just experienced. He will also need wisdom even to begin to wrap his mind around it and understand it.

Who put Daniel into that condition? God. Who will bring strength back to him? God. This is a consistent pattern throughout Scripture. Who led the Israelites out of Egypt? God. Who brought them right up to the Red Sea so that they would be trapped on one side by the water and on the other side by the pursuing Egyptians? God. Who allowed the Israelites to hunger in the wilderness? God. Who then fed them? God.

What is Daniel experiencing of which we all need reminding? That strength comes from God. The words of this heavenly being and his warm touch upon Daniel brought him strength. Daniel then asked for more of it!

And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”

Let’s ask for more of it today, too.

Be Steadfast–He Will Not Forsake You

1 Let brotherly love continue… 5…For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say:  “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:1, 5-6)

1 Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved….13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:1, 13)

This week, I want to focus on these verses.  I would encourage you to take time and read the entire chapters and even the books of Philippians and Hebrews.  These verses are taken out of context of larger discussions but I have used them to keep me focused in my life of service to God and others.  Because I am forgiven of my sins through the blood of Jesus and have been reconciled to God the Father…I am different.  Keeping these verses in mind helps me to remember that and remember that I am only a soujouner here even though the activiites of the world will get me off track, overwhelmed, and keep me from living “blessed” so that I can be a blessing to others.

The women in our lives are important and have a powerful impact on our lives.  Whether mothers, daughters, girl friends/friends, wives, or sisters (in Christ or by birth); the women in our lives can bring us great joy or bring us great sorrow…and visa versa us to them.  They are powerful relationships with powerful emotions.  We can even elevate them to hirer place than they should hold and we can put them at the center of lives where God belongs.  We are to honor and respect them for sure and we certainly should seek their affection, love, and approval.  However, that is not the source of our love.  That is not the source of our identitiy.  That is not the source of our contentment.  That is not the source of our hope.  We can’t start with them.

We start with our Father and our Savior.  In that, we can know that we are safe.  We can know that we are loved.  We can know that there is a greater relationship in play.  In that, we are free.  We are free to love and to offer ourselves and open ourselves up to be hurt because we have confidence in our Heavenly Father and He will not forsake us and we have confidence in our Savior and He will give us the strength needed to love no mater what…all things are possible.

This seems simple…but with real emotions, real relationships, real tragedy, real betrayal, real hurt, real problems…we can get off track and we can become toxic and so can our relationships with our women.

If we first start with God and Jesus, we can then be filled up and freed to then pour out love, grace, mercy, longsuffering as we have received it.  We can do all of that for God…to the benefit to the women in our lives.

This has been a powerful realization and shift in my life and it came at one of the darkest of times.  Since then, thought things haven’t always been easy, I have felt more full and effective in my marriage, my parenting, my fellowship…in all aspects of my life with the women in my life.

Take some time and think about how you might be putting a woman in your life where God should be, the grief it is causing you and her, and go to God and lay this at His feet and meditate on how He would want you to go for the benefit of all involved.

When Our Gift Gets in the Way

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
(Romans 12:3-9)

Anna and I were talking about the concept of when our gift can actually become a curse. She was listening to some lessons online about this very thing, and she pointed out that sometimes we don’t know when to use our gift and when to turn it off. There are occasions when what God has blessed us with a talent but the way we use it can really cause a hindrance in our relationships.

Here is an example from Scripture:

Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda.
(Proverbs 25:20)

It may be that your gift is you are an incredibly positive and upbeat person. You always see the bright side of everything. That’s wonderful! But you might come across as really annoying or even as one who minimizes the pain of others by how you approach them. A sister who just lost a spouse may not want to hear you sing, “Sing and be happy.” If you are that person who always sees the bright side, you might have trouble comprehending why others do not. You will have to be very careful then on how you approach someone who doesn’t share that same gift.

Some people are great teachers, but what comes with that sometimes is that those who are really gifted at telling others what they need to do have a hard time turning that off. They are not really good at listening and asking questions and truly finding out what’s on someone’s mind. Having something to say is not always the right thing. Solomon said, “There is a time to be silent” (Ecclesiastes 3).

On the reverse side of that, there are sometimes those who are really gifted at being awesome listeners, but it may be that God wants them to speak up in that situation. Being silent is not always the right thing. Solomon said, “There is a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3).

Just something to think about today. What are your gifts and talents that God has blessed you with? Have there been times that what you are really good at has actually become a hindrance in your relationships? What can you do about that with God’s help? Have you asked God to help you use your gift in a way that will lift up and not hurt others?

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.
(Romans 12:15-16)

Out of the Mouth of Babes

My wife, Anna, and I were part of a camp recently, and one of my joys was to teach the 9-10 year old class. Our theme for the the week for the camp was “A Mind to Work,” based on the books Ezra and Nehemiah.

We kept reinforcing the concept that the enemies of God kept doing everything in their strength and power to fight against God’s people.

On the second or third day, one of the students said, “Well if they were doing everything in their strength to fight against God’s people, and they were not successful, then they must not have had much strength.”

Very true. The enemies of God and His work do not have any strength unless we give them the strength. What power are we letting others have over us?

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
(1 John 4:4)

Strong Enough to be Her Man

Are you “strong enough to be her man?”  No matter who the “her” is…whether it is mother, sister, daughter, wife…you are strong enough to be her man with God as your foundation and His blessings filling your heart.  His grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, hope will produce peace that will be just what is needed in the best and worst of times in our relationships with women.

Peace is not the absence of war, trials or tribulations.  Having peace does not mean that the women we love are not going to disappoint us, hurt us or lose their way.  Peace does not mean that our women are not going to be hurt, have challenges, or be without distractions.  Peace is not circumstantial but rather a state of being.  Peace is the presence of God; the tranquility and serenity within the individual who is in a right relationship with God.

Read Paul’s words in Philippians 4:6-7.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Find peace with God who is the source of peace.  Take a moment and read Colossians 3:12-17 with a focus on verse 15.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

 Draw near and Abide in Christ Jesus through whom God’s peace comes.  Jesus calls us to Abide in Him (John 15) because He has already taken care of what we need and God the good gardener will continue to lift us up, prune away the dead parts and provide us with the fresh air and sunshine needed to grow and prosper.  Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… (Rom. 5:1)

Have peace with self.  Take courage in Jesus’ words.  Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. (John 14:1)

We can then have a calmness and tranquility of mind knowing that God is on our side (Romans 8:23, 31).  He WILL NOT forsake you.  No matter how much someone else disappoints you, hurts you, or gets off track.  God will not forsake you and you will be cared for here and retain your final reward and home in heaven.  Allow this to build you up with a peaceful heart so that you can endure and be strong for others.

No matter how turbulent the times get, how loud the argument, how far the distance, how confused the situation…you have a voice!  Take it all to God in prayer (Philippians 4:6-7).

Then, as much as possible, have peace with your women.  (Romans 12:18; Hebrews 12:14).

God is our peace.  He will reassure us.  He will strengthen us.  He will fill us with His wisdom and discernment.  He will give us patience and endurance.  He will pour into us His grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, and hope in such a way we can project that into the lives of our women and reflect for them the peace and eternal perspective God has called us to have in good times and bad.

You are strong enough to be her man…when you have the peace that comes from above.