(After not posting for well over a year, much good has taken place and my heart is filled with many things that God has been doing in my life and showing me through the study of His Word. So perhaps it is time to get to logging them here as well as in my journals.)
Our women’s Sunday School class is studying through Jerry Bridge’s book The Practice of Godliness. It has been a good time to slowly work through the characteristics listed in the fruit of the Spirit ingredient label in Galatians 5:22-23. It’s what’s inside because Jesus lives inside of us and He is all of those things and so then I am somehow becoming and am all of those things.
We’re on faithfulness. Today I’m thinking about Daniel. In Daniel 6:3-4 we find that “Daniel became distinguished above all the other straps because an excellent spirit was in him. He was faithful and no error or fault was found in him.” Then in verse 10 it tells that he got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks to God as he had done previously.
So did Daniel just get an excellent spirit from God because God wanted to pick out someone to keep His kingdom going–or did Daniel have an excellent spirit because he prayed three times a day?
In Exodus 35:30-36:2 there’s an interesting picture that would indicate that some of the excellent spirit debate leans to the side of God giving it to Daniel by a work of His grace. Context: It’s time to build the tabernacle and God has called by name Bezalel and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge and with all craftsmanship and He inspired him to teach. Wow! Since I found that this summer I have been praying that God would infuse me with all of those things through the Holy Spirit to do my job with skill, intelligence, creativity, energy and great ability. My job is “secular.” I have also been praying that God would use my job for the Kingdom, realizing that though it is secular, it is my calling from God, and thus my ministry. I want a spirit of excellence from the Holy Spirit to do Kingdom work and to see God do great things in and through me whether I am at church or at work.
Here’s my verse for the other side of the debate. Psalm 37:3 “Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” ESV In the NASB it tells us to “cultivate faithfulness.” That means I have to do something–not just one thing, but lots of things over a period of many years. Like what?
- Be diligent. Daniel prayed three times a day. That takes diligence and discipline.
- Make faithfulness a priority and something to be honored. Psalm 101:6 “I will look with favor on the faithful in the land that they may dwell with me.” It is so easy to unintentionally honor people who are funny, witty, can sing well, or have some other talent but aren’t faithful or who don’t have a walk that is blameless.
- Keep your word even when it hurts. Psalm 15:4 “Who swears to his own hurt and does not change.”
- Be loyal, dependable, reliable, careful, thoughtful and considerate. Luke 16:10 tells us that “he who is faithful in little will be faithful in very much and he who is dishonest in very little with be dishonest in much.” That’s about money but it’s true with every area of our lives.
- Be spiritually steadfast and unmovable. That’s spiritual faithfulness. 1 Cor. 15:58 admonishes us to be always abounding in the work of the Lord; 2 Cor. 4:2 says “we do not lose heart,” and Galatians 6:9 “Let us not grow weary of doing good.”
Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit, which means that it’s a by product of the Holy Spirit being at work in our lives. God is faithful and He lives inside of us. His faithfulness will rub off on us because we’re becoming like Him. Romans 8:29 tells us that the good that comes from the bad things is to conform us to the image of Jesus–make us like Him.
What gets in the way of that conforming process? ME!!!!
There’s nothing to pull me away from me in this narcissistic selfie culture. Narcissism is defined as “an excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance; vanity, self absorption.” We think about my day, my comfort, my agenda, my stuff, me, me me, me…
Until Jesus enters and proclaims “death to self.” In Matthew 16:23 Jesus rebuked one of his best earthly friends “Get behind me Satan! You are a hinderance to me, for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” That’s what we’re doing in the flesh when we’re not in prayer much and in the Word much. We’re setting our interest on me, myself and I. When Peter started to sink on top of the water in Matthew 14:25-33 it is because “he saw the wind and was afraid.” He stopped looking at Jesus and looked at the wind. And he was sunk. And so are we.
We are changed from being a self centered, sporadic, well intentioned but inconsistent Christian to a more Daniel like believer with an excellent spirit by both the Spirit of the living God that we call upon daily to work in us, and by cultivating faithfulness, loyalty, integrity, steadfastness and discipline ourselves day by day, kneeling three times a day as is our practice.