The prophet Daniel and his three friends were four of the Hebrew youths who were kidnapped by the Babylonian empire. These three young men were extraordinary in every way; they were leaders intellectually, morally and spiritually.
The king spoke to Ashpenaz [Nebuchadnezzar] the master of his officials that he should bring some of the sons of Israel and some of the king's descendants and some of the nobles, youths in whom was no blemish, who were handsome and skillful in every branch of wisdom and gifted with understanding and discerning knowledge, and such as had ability in them to serve in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the language of the Chaldeans (Dan. 1:3–4).
Babylon was a godless and evil culture ruled by the cruel and despotic King Nebuchadnezzar. This royal villain had an intentional plan for the Hebrew youths whom his empire had kidnapped; his plan was to brainwash them and convince them to think the very thoughts of the Babylonian empire. Nebuchadnezzar was determined to change the way these young men thought, rearrange their belief system and eventually to destroy their very identity.
Identity begins in the brain and in the scope of one's thinking processes. Thus, the evil king, Nebuchadnezzar, and the spiritual enemy that you daily face, are in agreement about this one unchangeable aspect of life, which is true regardless of what century you live in: If you are able to alter people's thinking, you can change the particular way they perceive themselves. Consequently, if your enemy can "brainwash" you and convince you to think like him, he will also own your identity.
However, Daniel was an extraordinary and unforgettable young man with an excellent spirit. When he was confronted with the destructive plot of the king of Babylon, this is what he decided to do:
"But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's food, nor with the wine which he drank. Therefore he requested of the master of the officials that he might not defile himself" (Dan. 1:8).
This young, impressionable adolescent made up his mind not to defile himself. He determined that he would not be polluted with the food of the culture, the wine of his captors or the thinking of the compromised empire. Daniel knew that he had been chosen for greatness in the unseen kingdom and refused to fellowship even mentally with those who planned to steal his identity.
Have you made up your mind not to defile yourself? Have you predetermined that you will keep yourself separate, both mentally and physically, from the plans of the enemy to draw you into his culture? Make up your mind that your mind has been set aside for greatness in the kingdom of God; refuse to allow even a morsel of the enemy's deceit or a drop of the devil's trickery to enter your sanctified brain.
As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and skill in every branch of learning and wisdom. And Daniel had understanding in all kinds of visions and dreams.
Now at the end of the days that the king had set for them to be brought in, the master of the officials brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. The king spoke with them, and, among them all, none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they served before the king (Dan. 1:17-19).
The four young men who had been violently taken from their homes were used to change the course of Jewish history. There were others who had been kidnapped as well, and who also came from excellent families. There were other young men who had been well-educated and who were also filled with potential; however, these other unnamed and forgotten young men apparently caved in to the thinking of the Babylonian empire and were never heard from again.
"Then the king advanced Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon" (Dan. 2:48).
Daniel, the youth who had made up his mind to remain undefiled at the risk of his very life, was now the beneficiary of the king's favor and blessing. The Babylonian kingdom, which had held Daniel hostage, now recognized him as a man of authority and influence. Daniel's voice of leadership was heard above all the other voices of his culture, and this amazing miracle was set into motion when he made up his mind to honor God. It was, indeed, a valiant and defining choice that the young Daniel made!
When you resolve to think pure thoughts and to commit your brain to being a reservoir of righteousness and honor, you are positioning yourself for promotion, favor and destiny in God. You will be promoted from being a powerless captive of Satan's attacks to becoming a ruling comrade of the King! You will no longer be identified as "kidnapped" or "vulnerable," but you will take on the leadership qualities of the King Himself.
But first, you must make up your mind. You must determine ahead of time, by the power of the Holy Spirit, which thoughts you will allow to remain in your mental cavity and which thoughts must be banished from your brain. Such a personal decision has the power to determine what type of life you will live.
The world may be waiting for a man or a woman like you to make up your mind so that you, too, can have kingdom impact! God may be waiting for you to make up your mind so that He can use your life to change the course of history.
Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written eight books, including The Rooms of a Woman's Heart, Defiant Joy!, Holy Estrogen!, No More Ordinary, Refined, Joy For All Seasons, Let There Be Joy! and Pass the Joy, Please! which releases on February 1, 2018.Her teaching DVD, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart, won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming. You can also listen to Carol's "Jolt of Joy" program daily on the Charisma Podcast Network. Connect with Carol or inquire about her speaking to your group at justjoyministries.com.
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