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Daniel Devotional: Resolved

Many of us are thinking about resolutions right now. To eat better, to use our time better, to do life better. But for many this resolution dies by February. Daniel 1:8 serves as the key verse for everything that happens in the book of Daniel and what I hope will happen with our 2017. Daniel had resolve. He made up his mind and stuck with it despite all consequences. In our lives, we constantly make decisions based really on one of three things. We base them on who we arewho we know, orwhat we want to do (Got that from Andy Stanley’s 2010 Passion talk). And for the most part, by the time we graduate from college in our young adult years we have firmed up who we are. Growing up, I learned a lot about what to do, but not a lot about who I was. I know that sounds semantic, so let me explain. Growing up in middle school and high school, I knew that cheating was wrong. I knew it was bad and that good kids didn’t cheat. But also embedded in me was something different. Cheating was less important than a grade. In fact learning was less important that a grade. Grades for me symbolized my success and arrival. I focused on what I did. When I went to West Point, they had the honor code: A cadet will not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate those who do.
Now at first that was a pretty scary thing to live up to. Primarily because I was probably more of a B+ student than the A student that my transcript showed. I studied hard, but I never had a problem with checking my answers before I turned in a test. At West Point, I was surrounded by people who were so much smarter than me and so much better at everything than me, that I no longer had an identity in what I did, but rather in simply being a cadet. I valued that. What I was taught at the academy reversed this grade identity and replaced it with a cadet identity. I went from valuing what I did: grades to who I was: a cadet. When I found myself in a situation where the high school me would just check on another’s test, I now just turned in my test and wrote “Beat Navy” in the answer I did not know. Something in me changed. And later when my identity moved from cadet to Army Officer, and then ultimately follower of Christ, I simply tried to live with resolve. Daniel exemplified this for me.
When Daniel entered into the King of Babylon’s service, he had a decision to make. Would he look to achieve the best grades? Would he look to be connected with the people who could advance him the highest? Or would he settle in and make a decision about who he was going to be? Verse eight hammers out his decision. Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food. The king’s food was an issue, because it didn’t follow the Jewish dietary law and used meat sacrifice to idols. Daniel had lost his name. He was now called Belteshazzar. Daniel didn’t focus on what he couldn’t control—what others called him. He focused on what he could control: what he put in his mouth. And this was dangerous. He could lose everything.
Daniel placed in God’s hands what he would achieve and his connections to power. He merely wanted to be a man that was faithful to God first. Daniel wasn’t rude about it—but he was firm about it. He chose a course of action and stuck with it. There was no turning back. And God rewarded him for it. He didn’t set him free, but rather used Daniel in a position of power because he was so faithful to do the right thing not to get ahead, not to earn approval from someone, but because it is just who Daniel was. He was a man resolved to follow God.
What about you? Does what you do or perhaps who you know drive who you are? In 2017, resolve to let who you are drive every decision you make.

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