December 5 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners.” ~Daniel 5:11

OLD TESTAMENT

Daniel came to the attention of Nebuchadnezzar because of his God-given talent to interpret dreams. After the king’s death, Daniel must have joined the ranks of former officials working as advisors to an advisor of an administrative cabinet official. This placed him several administrative “layers” away from Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s successor, and probably explains why that sovereign didn’t recognize the prophet in chapter 5. If you have ever worked for a very large company, you know how this goes.

It is not clear exactly what Daniel’s duties were in Babylon. He was probably something like a scholar-turned-advisor, much like a modern-day academic who serves as an advisor to the president. Advisors often have leadership responsibilities within an administration and also spend countless hours gathering information from a dizzying array of sources (specialists, lawmakers, actuaries, academics, officials, heads of state, etc.). They sift through ever-growing mountains of information to help their boss craft policy for the nation. They could lose the job (or your head, in Daniel’s day) if they don’t give good advice.

Daniel was apparently good at his job. He worked very hard, but he also recognized that God had given him his abilities. For this among other things, he offered praise to God again and again. Daniel paused three times a day for prayer and worship, and herein lies our lesson for today.

Daniel is a contrast to the powerful kings under which he served. They failed to give God praise for the positions they held. (The book of Daniel seems to indicate it is proper for an unbeliever to give thanks to God.) Every position whether great or small, as well as every ability given to carry out a calling, is from God. We work, but the ability to do so comes from God. And as this story shows, only God can deliver us when we face the most incredible odds on the job. Daniel was truly a gifted person, but all his talent could not save him from hungry lions!

Those who forget that they owe everything to God, including their own safety, are in danger of a swift demotion. So remember to give praise to Him anytime you enjoy success in your work for He is the source of all blessings.

NEW TESTAMENT

Testing the spirits doesn’t mean that we need some sixth sense. It means that we are to use discernment when we listen to someone preach. If a person’s preaching doesn’t ring true when compared with what is revealed in Scripture, then another spirit is at work through him or her.

After John’s warning to keep our ears tuned only to the spirit of truth, he returns to a favored subject, the importance of love. God exudes love in all that He does. That’s what it means when John tells us that “God is love.” He loves the world, even the worst of sinners. And He calls us to love like He does. Real believers (and real ministers of the gospel) are characterized by their love for others, as tough as that might be sometimes. Our treatment of others, both saved and lost, tells the world something about God. Let’s show them something amazing!


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.