Daniel the Faithful

I was led to believe that Sunday’s sermon was going to be on Jeremiah, and I was really looking forward to it because of all the sermon’s I’ve ever heard, I’ve never heard one on Jeremiah. Then Dave preached on Daniel, who I have no animosity towards but was really miffed at on Sunday simply because he isn’t Jeremiah.

As Dave introduced Daniel, I realized that Daniel was an uber human, which is not very relatable to me. And as I listened to how smart and wise Daniel was, how attractive he was, and how heroic he was, I found myself thinking very loudly, “Daniel, Daniel, Daniel!” in the style of Jan on The Brady Bunch.

Daniel may seem like a topdog, but his underdog story involves some very big cats.

In Daniel 6, we find that he is one of three presidents over leaders in the kingdom. Verse 3 (NRSV) says, “Soon Daniel distinguished himself above all the other presidents and satraps because an excellent spirit was in him, and the king planned to appoint him over the whole kingdom.” It’s not surprising or hard to believe that the other presidents and leaders were unhappy about this and pretty much planned a political coup.

They tried to find some sort of fault with Daniel. “But they could find no grounds for complaint or any corruption, because he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption could be found in him” (v. 4).

There it was. They had their answer. Faithful. Faithful almost to a fault. I imagine a guy just leaning back in his chair and letting his hands fall on the table in exasperation as he says, “There’s nothing. We can’t touch him. What are we going to say? ‘Oh, he’s too reliable.’ ‘Oh, he’s too faithful.'” Then someone else says, “That’s it! What if we show the king that he’s more faithful to someone else than he is to him?” Verse 5 says, “The men said,’We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.'” They go to King Darius with their plan in hand and convince him to sign an ordinance saying that, for 30 days, anyone who prays to anyone or anything but him would be thrown into the lions’ den.

Daniel knew about this, but it didn’t stop him from kneeling in front of his windows that faced Jerusalem and praying three times a day. So he was found and brought before the king, who did not want to condemn Daniel to the den but eventually had to.

The king went to the lions’ den first thing the next day. “When he came near the den where Daniel was, he cried out anxiously to Daniel, ‘O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God whom you faithfully serve been able to deliver you from the lions?’ Daniel then said to the king, ‘O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong.’ Then the king was exceedingly glad and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God” (v. 20-23). The king had those who accused Daniel thrown into the den along with their families. All of their bones were broken in pieces before they reached the bottom.

The takeaway here is not to have friends in high places but to have the best possible friend in the highest place.

Daniel was so close to God that I can’t help but think of them as friends. Friends are faithful to each other. Daniel didn’t ditch God because of a new ordinance just as God had never left Daniel before and certainly didn’t leave him in the lions’ den. Daniel shouldn’t have walked out of that den, but God rewarded Daniel’s faithfulness by showing His own.

My sincerest hope is that you don’t feel like you’re in the lions’ den, but if you do, please remember that God is faithful even when we’re not. He’s working on you and for you, and if you put your faith in Him as Daniel did, you’ll make it out alive and well.

By Carrie Prevette

David the Patient

I don’t even dare to think of all the sermons, lessons, and words that have been spoken and written about David. David the shepherd. David the king. David, the giant slayer. David, the man after God’s own heart. David the underdog. There’s so much we can say about David because we know so much about him. As readers of the Bible, we have the privilege of seeing David at his best and worst and knowing that God loved him just as much at his lowest as He did at his highest. David’s life was filled with many mountains and valleys, and his relationship with God was remarkable.

David was merely a shepherd. He was a son of Jesse and had brothers who looked far more kingly than he did, but David was the one God told Samuel to anoint as future king. This did not inherently upset the reigning king, Saul. Saul loved David like a son until David defeated Goliath when Saul would not, and the people of the kingdom loved David and hated Saul. When we join them in 1 Samuel 24, we see that Saul wants David dead. He’s hunting him. Well, Saul and 3,000 of his men.

But David has men of his own, and when they’re surrounding the cave that Saul is in at that very moment using the bathroom, they tell David to go for it. God has promised David that He would deliver his enemy into his hands for him to do to his enemy as he sees fit.

David has Saul in the most vulnerable waking position, and no guard is in there to protect him. Now, I don’t know about you, but I never get this sort of golden opportunity, so had I been among David’s men, I would’ve told him the exact same thing.

So what does David do? He cuts a piece off of Saul’s robe instead of killing him. And get this: David feels bad about doing even that much.

This speaks not only to the patience of David – being willing to wait for the right time to become king and be avenged – but also to how wise David was – knowing the way in which God would fulfill His promise and how to handle it. When most people would’ve killed Saul for vengeance alone and then even moreso with an impending kingship with the support of the people, David showed Saul mercy.

David explains himself to his men and asks them not to attack Saul. Saul leaves the cave, and David yells after him. He bows before Saul, says that he doesn’t want to hurt him, despite what people say, because Saul is anointed by God. He shows Saul the bit of robe he cut off to show that he could’ve killed him but didn’t. David tells him that God will judge between the two of them and will avenge David, but it won’t be by David’s hand. All the while, David refers to him as “lord” and “father.”

And when David is finished, Saul calls him “son.” In 1 Samuel 24:17-20 (KJV), Saul says, “Thou art more righteous than I; for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil. And thou hast shown this day that thou hast dealt well with me: forasmuch as when the Lord had delivered me into thine hand, thou killedst me not. For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? wherefore the Lord reward thee good for that thou hast done unto me this day. And now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand.” Then Saul asks that David not cut off his lineage, which David obliges, and they go their separate ways.

David could’ve killed Saul and rushed God’s promise that he would be king, but he knew it was better to wait on God’s timing for David’s reign. He knew it was better to wait for Saul’s death to occur as it would have than for him to end his life. This patience proved David’s trust in God and his love for Saul. And it made Saul realize how foolish he’d been and how incredible of a king David would be.

David was quite an underdog. He was on the run from a jealous king who couldn’t face his own faults and wanted David dead. And when the door was open to take matters into his own hands, he decided to wait on God. When he was telling Saul how he’d spared his life, David didn’t smirk and turn the bit of Saul’s robe over in his fingers, saying, “You really should thank me for not killing you.” He bowed and spoke humbly, only wanting Saul to know that he didn’t kill him because that wasn’t in any way his desire.

It’s hard not to take matters into our own hands, especially if you’re an underdog who feels like you’ve just been thrown a bone. But know that if God has promised, He’ll come through because He is faithful. Don’t give up. Don’t mess it up by taking it into your own hands. Be like David, and let God work.

By Carrie Prevette

Joseph the Dreamer

Let’s talk about underdogs. Not the Patriots in last year’s Super Bowl. Not the Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals. Not even Floyd Mayweather or Conor McGregor, each somehow an underdog depending on who you ask since Vegas’ odds heavily favored Mayweather but many people thought him too old and out of practice to win. We’re not even going to discuss the greatest underdog story of my generation– the Tune Squad from Space Jam. There’ll be no long post about how they prevailed with Michael Jordan’s leadership and Lola Bunny’s skills. We’ll not dwell on how the Monstars were ruthlessly beating them until they drank water at halftime when Bugs Bunny made them believe it was Jordan’s secret stuff or how Bill Murray came into the game in the final seconds and devised an effective defensive play despite him saying they’d have to look to Jordan for a plan because Bill “[doesn’t] play defense.” No, we’ll not focus on that game right now. Let’s talk about biblical underdogs over the next few weeks, and we’ll start by talking about Joseph.

I am thrilled that I get to talk about Joseph. He’s my favorite person in the Old Testament, and he has an incredible story. In my notes for the sermon that accompanies this post, you’ll find that I drew little hearts by Joseph’s name at the top of the page. Seriously, I have a lot of feelings about Joseph.

Jacob loved Rachel and worked for her family to earn her hand in marriage for seven years. The family tricked him into marrying Rachel’s older sister, Leah, first. Jacob worked an additional seven years to marry Rachel. Jacob has kids by Leah and kids by Rachel, one of which was Joseph. Because of this and because he was the child Jacob fathered in his old age, Joseph was Jacob’s favorite, which Jacob didn’t even try to hide. He gave Joseph a coat of many colors and gave all his other sons nothing.

Joseph’s brothers were understandably not cool with Joseph’s preferencial treatment. Joseph had two dreams that these same brothers would bow to him, and they were upset to the point that they talked about killing him and throwing him in a pit. They decided that was a little rough, so they just threw him in a pit until they eventually sold him into slavery.

A man by the name of Potiphar bought Joseph. Joseph eventually made Potiphar and his estate so prosperous that he was appointed over everything so that all Potiphar had to really think about is what he ate. One day, Potiphar’s wife tried to take Joseph to bed with her. Joseph declined, but Mrs. Potiphar kept pushing until one day when Joseph ran out of the house to escape her and, in doing so, left his coat behind. The wife told the other servants and her husband that it was Joseph who pursued her. Potiphar believed her and had Joseph sent to prison.

In prison, which Joseph pretty much ran despite being an inmate, Joseph interpreted the dreams of a man who worked for Pharaoh. So when Pharaoh had a dream that needed interpreting, Joseph was the man. He told Pharaoh that his dream meant there was going to be seven years of abundance and prosperity followed by seven years of famine and advised that they should store the excess. So Pharaoh put Joseph over that, and Joseph became the second most powerful man in the land. And when the famine came, Joseph’s brothers came asking for food, which was the fulfillment of Joseph’s dreams.

I really hope you’ll take the time to read Joseph’s story in Genesis 37-47 because it’s as colorful and exciting in its entirety as Joseph’s coat.

The reasons I love Joseph so much play a hand in why he’s considered an underdog. Joseph found himself in terrible circumstances, and those circumstances were usually through no fault of his own. Joseph could’ve easily gotten discouraged, but he didn’t let it all get to him. He held on to God’s promise for him and never lost his faith. He trusted God and prospered wherever he was at. Joseph beat impossible odds and never once gave a hint of doubt.

It took years for Joseph’s promise to come true, but he held on to it. We don’t read in any place where he was mad at God or questioned God. Even at his lowest, Joseph remained confident and hopeful.

I don’t know what point you’re at or what your lowest point looks like. I don’t know what people have said to you or how they’ve treated you. And I have no clue what your comeback will look like, but I do know that if you hang on, if you hold on to God’s promises and have faith, you’ll rise to your highest points. But you won’t see those promises fulfilled if you give up.

Look at Joseph as an example. Keep your eyes on God and trust in Him. Don’t cling to the words of people who aim to discourage you. Believe God, who works for your good. As the poem “LISTEN TO THE MUSTN’TS” by Shel Sileverstein says:

Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,

Listen to the DON’TS

Listen to the SHOULDN’TS,

The IMPOSSIBLES, the WON’TS

Listen to the NEVER HAVES

Then listen close to me–

Anything can happen, child,

ANYTHING can be

By Carrie Prevette

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