Pastor Bob Magie – Retired/Refocused
Specifically Daniel 7, 8, and 5 (NIV)
The word “discipline” has gotten a bad rap. We discipline our children, we discipline our bodies, we discipline our speech and behavior. This all seems to be couched in negative terms, while failing to focus on the positive results of discipline. Athletes succeed in their careers through relentless practice, saying “no” to lesser things that would hamper their ultimate goals. Homeowners succeed in keeping their lawn under control by turning off the TV and mowing the yard. Parents succeed in raising well-behaved children by taking time to teach them good behavior. In today’s study, we see discipline personified in a man named Daniel, who lived in a culture similar to ours where pleasure and ease and comfort were glorified.
Webster’s dictionary defines discipline as “a way of behaving that shows a willingness to obey rules or orders.” After reading these chapters in Daniel, we can see how willing Daniel was to obey the orders of his Heavenly King, rather than any earthly king. Daniel disciplined his whole life, which included eating habits, intellectual pursuits, truth telling, serving others, and activities, like prayer, that intentionally brought him in constant, daily contact with God. Many of these activities are traditionally known as “spiritual disciplines.” Here is a sample list of these disciplines taken from Richard Foster’s excellent book Celebration of Discipline which has been a practical help to many, including myself.
The inward disciplines
Meditation – Prayer – Fasting – Study
The outward disciplines (inward realities resulting in outward lifestyles)
Simplicity – Solitude – Submission – Service
The corporate disciplines
Confession – Worship – Guidance – Celebration
We have a lot to learn from Daniel, as his life included many things on this list. Question for all of us: Do we have a disciplined life?
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:11
The disciplined life that Daniel lived put him in a position with God to receive His truths, including dreams and visions about present and future events. However, that did not mean he lived an easy life. After receiving the vision of the ram and the he-goat and the explanation of it by the angel Gabriel, Daniel “was overcome and lay sick for some days; then I rose and went about the king’s business; but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it.” (Dan. 8:27) This one verse contains an outline for a 3 point sermon!
Following God’s will does not ensure perpetual good health in our earthly lives.
When we are physically able, we are to be doing the work our “King” gives us by serving others.
We will sometimes be horrified or shocked by our tumultuous and troubled times and not understand why God allows them.
Due to Daniel’s disciplined and faithful life, he was also able to receive the following assurances from God–assurances we can also claim as forgiven sinners (“saints”).
“…his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.” (Dan. 7:14)
“…But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, forever, and ever.” (Dan. 7:18)
“…And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom and all dominions shall serve and obey them.” (Dan. 7:27)
Are you as troubled by the state of our nation and world as I am? Hopefully you have been reassured through the reading of these chapters that God knows what is happening and is working through the troubles of this world to accomplish His purposes. To do this, God wants to use you and me just as much as He used Daniel, though His purposes for us are different. For that to occur, we must discipline our lives like Daniel, as spiritual growth doesn’t just happen. We must be determined and diligent within a culture that seems to promote the reverse. Along with Daniel, we will not live perfect lives; but we can and should have inner peace knowing that:
God is ultimately in control!
God’s kingdom is everlasting!
God’s people will be with Him forever!
Amen! (Literally, “so be it!”)