The Land of Promise (Part IV)

The Israelites who came out of Egypt desired to see the land of promise, but only Joshua and Caleb made it from that generation. What was different about these two? What was about Joshua and Caleb that gave them success!? What allowed them to have a sustaining faith in the face of the same trying circumstances that the others experienced!?

Spirit of Excellence (Part III)

How would you respond if you were invited to the White House and the President desired to share his food and delicacies with you?

I think most of us will consider it a great honor and privilege to be invited to the White House. The fact that the President would desire to feed us with the best, it would be a very flattering complement! We may even think that this is a blessing from the Lord. We have finally been acknowledged and recognized for who we really are. We might imagine that we have arrived at the pinnacle of success!

And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king.  Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the nameBelteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; Daniel 1:5-8a

Daniel had a different response to king’s delicacies than most people. He was already serving a king. His king was the King of Kings and the Lord of lords. He had been at the presence of his King long before he came before the presence of the Babylonian king. His arrival at the palace was just one of many assignments that God had for him, but His identity and significance weren’t tied to it.

When you sit down to eat with a ruler,
Consider carefully what is before you;
 And put a knife to your throat
If you are a man given to appetite.
 Do not desire his delicacies,
For they are deceptive food. Proverbs 23:1-3

Daniel refused to eat from the king’s table because his first and foremost allegiance was to His King! An ambassador of Christ is sent to a foreign territory, and he/she is never supposed to get caught up with the culture and customs of the foreign country to the point of not representing the kingdom that sent him/her.

An excellent spirit comes from having settled the issue of our allegiance that regardless of the circumstances and losses one may experience, one’s focus and mission does not change. When we have Daniel’s attitude about our assignments, our outlook and our response to situations are very different. We are not at the mercy of man to recognize us, give us privileges,  or take them away. We know the most important person in heaven and on earth has recognized us, so now we focus on being his instrument in the new place!

Daniel was faced with earthly losses many times. However, he was determined to please His God and His almighty King, and the supposed earthly losses turned out to be to his spiritual advantage!

Today, what are you faced with that may require some losses in order to develop an excellent spirit?

Zacharias’ Unique Opportunity

Zecharias’ life was about to change abruptly. While he was about to do his once in a lifetime priestly duty before God, the Lord had a special meeting planned for him!

There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.

So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.10 And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. Luke 1:5-12

Zacharias came from the Levitical priesthood from the line of Abijah. The priesthood was separated into 24 divisions (See 1Chronicles 24:7-17). “A priest served once or twice a year at the temple, and Zacharias may have been one of 18,000 priests who served in a year. However burning incense was something a priest could only do once in his career.” (See Thomas Nelson Study Bible)

How would you like to be used by God or by your church only once or twice a year!? I wonder if that would make ministry more appealing or less appealing!

Burning incense was a once in a lifetime moment for Zacharias. People stood outside while he was in the presence of the Lord (verse 10). Family and friends must have gathered for this special occasion. Besides one’s wedding,  what other occasion can be so momentous in one’s life!? There must have been a great sense of wonder and awe in the heart of those who were watching this.  Most Israelites and all women would not have experienced this privilege in their entire lives.

The good news is that Jesus’ shed blood did away with all the ceremonial Levitical practices. Now, all of us are called kings and priests to our God. We can come into His presence at any moment of the day and bring our offering of praise, thanksgiving, and prayer to him at any time.

Sometimes because of ease of access, we forget the value of what has been given to us. Do we appreciate coming to the house of God? Do we value serving God? Do we, as an altar worker, recognize the privilege of praying with someone and leading them to Christ? Are we thankful for being used by God to set the captives free?

The Kingdom of God happens in those small and powerful moments that are always available to us! Praise God!