Discipleship Part 2: The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the Pride of Life

Do Not Love the World

1 JOHN 2: 15Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

When you think about these words, they are really tough to handle as a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Tough to handle in the way that our old self (dead to sin) is still at war with our new self born again in Jesus Christ.  We are no longer owned by death, as death has lost its hold on those who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  The problem is when we entertain lust in our lives.  Lust is defined as, “intense sexual desire or appetite”.  There are three things that can pull us away from what God’s perfect plan for us is:

lust of the eyesLust of the eyes:

  • Beauty (desiring what we see, but cannot have)
  • Nudity
  • Sexual appetite
  • Desire
  • Want
  • Greed

itsallaboutmeLust of the Flesh

  • Acting on that which we desire by sight
  • Giving in to the temptation of the eyes
  • Gratifying our desires via the flesh
  • Gluttony
  • Overdoing
  • Insatiable Appetite (nothing can fill it)
  • Addictions (drugs, alcohol, sex) and giving in to them

Pride of life

  • Putting our needs before God’s will
  • Succoming to our desires, thereby following the worlds path instead of God’s
  • PrideBecoming god-like without the power to save (we did it our way NOT God’s way)
  • Selfishness
  • Arrogance
  • Un-repentance

 

How to equip yourself for these 3 major battles:

  • Put on the new self
  • Holy Living (click here)
  • Become a living sacrifice (click here)
  • Renew your mind (daily and for some minute by minute)
  • Confess and Repent
  • Turn away from (in simple terms: RUN)

Next up, running the race:  Equip, Prepare, Fight
Blessings,

Dante

By Faith – We are children of the promise

Hebrews 11 New International Version (NIV)

by faithFaith in Action

11: 1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”[a] For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she[b] considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

 

17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[c] 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.

21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.

23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.

31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.[d]

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Overwhelmed this Christmas Season

I have been on a long business trip that has taken me away from home since the 29th of November.  I am excited to be flying home tomorrow.  I am thankful for God’s faithfulness in my life and His love for His servant (me).  There has been a song that has carried me through these past two weeks:  Big Daddy Weave – Overwhelmed.  The song goes like this (official video)

What overwhelmed me this morning was reading through Matthew, Luke and John about the birth and beginning:  It’s all about Jesus.  The faithfulness of God throughout the entire lineage up to the birth of Jesus.  The love of God to let two wonderful servants meet this Savior before their death and the incredible love of what that means for all of us who profess His name:  Jesus.

I am not sure about you, but this whole thought overwhelms me!

Some thoughts and reflections for you this Christmas Season:

  • Read with your family through the advent book (click here to buy it)
  • Read the Gospels of the accounts of Jesus through God’s inspired word and talk with your kids
  • Make the season about giving instead of focusing on getting
  • Bless another family or someone who has nothing
  • Serve in a soup kitchen
  • Insert your suggestions here:  ___________________

What about you?

Blessings,

Dante

 

 

Trust in the Lord – a time of reflection

Proverbs 3 New International Version (NIV)

trustWisdom Bestows Well-Being

 

  • 1 My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart,
  • 2 for they will prolong your life many years  and bring you peace and
  • prosperity.  3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck,
  • write them on the tablet of your heart.  4 Then you will win favor and a good name
  • in the sight of God and man.  5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart  
  • and lean not on your own understanding;6 in all your ways submit to him,
  •     and he will make your paths straight.[a]
  • 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;  fear the Lord and shun evil.
  • 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
  • Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;
  • 10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,  and your vats will brim over with new wine.
  • 11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke,
  • 12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.[b]
  • 13 Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding,
  • 14 for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.
  • 15 She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.
  • 16 Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.
  • 17 Her ways are pleasant ways,  and all her paths are peace.
  • 18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.
  • 19 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place;
  • 20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.
  • 21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
  • preserve sound judgment and discretion;
  • 22 they will be life for you,
  • an ornament to grace your neck.
  • 23 Then you will go on your way in safety,
  • and your foot will not stumble.
  • 24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
  • when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
  • 25 Have no fear of sudden disaster
  • or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
  • 26 for the Lord will be at your side
  • and will keep your foot from being snared.
  •  27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,     when it is in your power to act.
  • 28 Do not say to your neighbor,
  •     “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—
  •     when you already have it with you.
  • 29 Do not plot harm against your neighbor,
  • who lives trustfully near you.
  • 30 Do not accuse anyone for no reason—
  • when they have done you no harm.
  • 31 Do not envy the violent  or choose any of their ways.
  • 32 For the Lord detests the perverse but takes the upright into his confidence.
  • 33 The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous.
  • 34 He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.
  • 35 The wise inherit honor, but fools get only shame

—–

Some take-a-ways from Proverbs 3:

  • Read His word daily (keep His commandments and repent when you don’t)
  • Work out your salvation daily (with fear and trembling of God’s AWEsomeness)
  • Let Love and Faithfulness abound in you daily (and in your daily walk)
  • Fear the Lord and do not entertain anything perverse/evil
  • Do not hate His discipline, but understand that He is treating us as a loving father would treat his son
  • Do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight (keep the word close to you and your heart)
  • Honor the Lord with your wealth (tithe).  This is the only time that we can test the Lord (Malachi 3:10-11)
  • Try and out give God in doing good (see what He does for you)
  • Do not withhold good and charity from others when it is in your power to act (this will be a great sin against the saints, so repent if you do and ask for his path the next time)
  • Do not envy the violent or worldly individuals (their wealth and prosperity is fleeting if their hope is not in the Lord)
  • Do not choose their ways of living (worldly) for this does not prosper us, nor does it make our Father (in Heaven) happy
  • Do not grieve the Holy Spirit that is in each of us that profess the name of Christ
  • Finally, Trust in the Lord with all of your heart
  • Lean not on your understanding
  • In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.

 

Blessings,
Dante

Discipleship: What does that look like for me

GoAs many of you have heard me say before on previous posts, one of the privileges that I have at my church (besides being an Elder) is to be the leader of our Men’s Ministry (called Men of Faith).  I was talking to a brother this earlier this week and he was asking me for my input on some things.  One of them was what do you do with the brothers that say that they want a mentor (accountability) and that they are looking to be discipled by another brother (or sister).   The rub lies in that when they say that they want this, they really don’t mean it or really don’t want to change their behavior – what do you do (he asked me).

Surprising him, my answer was, “Nothing!”  Seriously, when we really think about it, God is pretty clear in what He calls us to do as His Stewards of time, talent and treasure.

God is pretty clear in what He tells us (His disciples) what to do:

  • Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
  • Luke 9:23 ESV And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
  • Luke 14:27 ESV Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
  • 2 Timothy 2:2 ESV And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
  • Ephesians 4:11-17 ESV And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
  • Matthew 5:14-16 ESV “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
  • Acts 2:42 ESV And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
  • John 8:31-32 ESV So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
  • Matthew 16:24-25 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
  • John 15:1-17 ESV “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
  • Luke 14:26 ESV “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
  • John 13:34-35 ESV A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
  • Luke 6:40 ESV A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.
  • Luke 14:33 ESV So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
  • 1 Corinthians 11:1 ESV Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
  • Luke 9:57-62 ESV As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.”
  • Titus 2:1-8 ESV But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves too much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
  • Galatians 6:6 ESV One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.
  • Galatians 5:24 ESV And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

DareWe are given a mission:  Go and Make Disciples!!!  What does that look like in your back yard?  How does the church implement this?  How do ministries implement this?  How does a men’s group

(or women’s group) implement this?  Short answer:  WE DON’T!  The Holy Spirit does.  God has created a new work in us, we are bought with a price and paid for and given more grace and mercy

than we could ever comprehend this side of Heaven.  So what are we to do with this immeasurable gift?  How can we do anything for  a “gift” that we cannot buy?

 

 

 

 

The simple matter is to:

  • Humble ourselves before a Holy God
  • Yield to His word, His preaching (bible believing churches) and His Spirit  (We cannot grow disciples without God’s Spirit in each of us)
  • Yield to the calling of the Lord
  • Do not hold back when we can do good

So now what?  What is the next step if I am in a men’s group:

  • Be accountable
  • Pray
  • Read God’s word daily
  • Meditate and get quiet time with God
  • Open up to other men whom you can trust
  • Be accountable
  • Listen to the kind words that are poured out for you
  • Ask these questions:  Do their words build me up, encourage me, comfort me?  If so then, trust in God and in these men that want me to be accountable and grow
  • Look for the fruit of the Spirit in the Ministry that I am in (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control)  If it does have it – trust it!  If it has the fruit of the sinful nature (FLEE)

The next step

  • Look for the Paul in your life (open up and pray for a friendship to emerge)
  • Look for the Timothy in your life (who is where you were?  encourage them, identify them, urge them and comfort them in their walk)
  • Do not become prideful, but continue to show humility in all things
  • Serve others before yourself
  • Love others before yourself

Trust in the Lord – ALWAYS

Now what?

  • Your doing it
  • Disciples are being made
  • People are growing
  • The fruit of the Spirit is overflowing
  • Pass it on

Thoughts?  (more to follow)

 

Blessings,

Dante

 

 

 

Grumble Jumble and Selfish Ambition

humilityAs we continue to delve into Scripture we find a lot of recurring and reinforcing themes that we, as Christians, are not only to follow but to try to put in everyday practice.  Love, being the most dominant of them all:  Fruit of the Spirit (that will be evident in those lives that are found in Christ):  Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Self-Control, Faithfulness, Goodness, Gentleness and Self-Control.

The problem with this perfect map of discipleship that the Word gives us is that we, on a daily basis, give in to the old self (the old-sin nature).  Either by our own desires and/or helped along with demonic influences in the very things that we so desire – for some:  Lust, power, hate, selfish ambition, vain conceit.   In other words, the Fruit of the Sinful Nature.

There are two very dominant things that we find in the book of Philippians besides the Secret to Life (contentment – another post) and that is unity in the body and putting on Christ (the humility of Christ).

 

Philippians 2 New International Version (NIV)

 

humilityImitating Christ’s Humility

2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

7 rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

by becoming obedient to death—

even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

and gave him the name that is above every name,

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

Do Everything Without Grumbling

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

———

For me, it is clear that when we take the humble approach of Jesus Christ we find a self-less attitude and begin to bear the fruit of the Spirit in our every day lives.  Thinking of others more than ourselves.  Caring about the needs of others instead of bearing the fruit of the sinful nature:  Sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish-ambition,  dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness and orgies.

We can easily sit then and say that we do not bear this fruit, but when we dig deeper into how Jesus Christ defines the law, and how society justifies these subtly in world venues, then it becomes so much harder for us to deny.

How can we overcome?

Take inventory of our lives

  • Look at our fruit (have others that we trust and walk with make their own list of our fruit)
  • Pray
  • Being in God’s word
  • Love the lord our God with all of our heart, mind, body, soul and strength
  • Trust in God
  • Lean on Him

What are some of your lists?

Blessings,

Dante

Top 10 reasons when you know your life is too busy

isolated 3d golden text "TOP 10"Back when I was in college for both my undergraduate and graduate degree, I had the privilege to travel to many different countries.  One particular year I was able to take an international course in Rome, Italy.  This was a two-week course in graduate school, which allowed some of my friends and me to travel all around Italy, Greece and Switzerland.  I thoroughly enjoyed this time and was in awe of how laid back the Italians were especially during their siesta.  Literally, in the afternoon there was a four-hour siesta (time for rest) and the town that we were staying was literally shut down.

There is a lot to be said for that, sometimes when we find ourselves in life’s fast lane, we need to take a break and slow way down, and even get off at the proverbial rest stop.  This got me thinking about this post and how important time management is as stewards of God’s time.   How important are some of the most little things in life that we are so busy (world standards) that we miss God’s standards.

So here it goes, my top 10 reasons when you know your life is too busy:

#10   You worry too much  - the demands in your life keep pulling you in every direction (Job lists keep growing, there is always more to do, your kids activities are taking you in every direction – family dinners are in the family vehicle going from one sport to another instrument).  You have not been keeping up with the goals that you set for yourself when you were younger.  You are not sure about this economy and what that means for you your loved ones.  You don’t give these worries to God (let’s be honest, if you worry too much, I want to challenge your prayer life)

#    9   You are too busy to forgive others – you let everything else pull you in every direction and to do things that really don’t matter.  Relationships that need to be edified and nurtured and cultured.  Sometimes we neglect loved ones (our wives, kids, family members and friends) You need to say you are sorry and make them a priority.   You need to forgive if you let life get in the way of forgiveness.

#    8   You are lonely – let’s be honest here.  You can be successful, you can technically have it all and you could have a wife and family that loves you and friendships that would do anything for you, but you are too busy to notice and to busy to realize that you are wealthy in friends and family and relationships – so you feel lonely

#     7  You are in debt – because of the busyness and the time pull you justify the debt in your life due the demand of this rat race called life

#     6  Your family and friends’ relationships are suffering – as point #8 said, because you are so busy the very things that give you peace, contentment and happiness are left out in the cold of this busy and the time away both by being their presently and or being pulled away by life still keeps you disconnected from the ones that you need to cultivate and build up and invest in

#     5   You procrastinate too much – you have so many good ideas and dreams that will bring you to levels of contentment and happiness, yet you are too busy to take the tasks to hand

#     4   You are truly bored – life is crazy, you are way to busy to slow down and breath in the life of peach and tranquility, therefore you believe that you are bored instead of busy – so you make your life busier and busier pursuing the very things that are in front of you (slow down smell the roses)

#     3   You have no spiritual life – the way you used to pray, the way you used to spend time in the word, the way you used to devotion – where is the time

#     2   You are lacking community – what more needs to be said, refer to #8 #4 and #9

#     1   You are not making time for the right things – Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, body and strength.  The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as your self.  Put God first.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, acknowledge Him in all of your ways and He will make your path straight.

LDWhen you reflect on these things (and be honest) my next post will point us to Scripture to meditate on (Start with Proverbs 5).

Blessings,

Dante

Integrity: Lessons from Daniel

in·teg·ri·ty

noun

integritythe quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.

  • “he is known to be a man of integrity”
  • synonyms:          honesty, probity, rectitude, honor, good character, principle(s), ethics, morals, righteousness, morality, virtue, decency, fairness, scrupulousness, sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness
  • “I never doubted his integrity”
  • antonyms:          dishonesty

the state of being whole and undivided.

  • “upholding territorial integrity and national sovereignty”
  • synonyms:          unity, unification, coherence, cohesion, togetherness, solidarity
  • “the integrity of the federation”

In the book of Daniel, we read two stories:

Daniel 3 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Fiery Furnace

8 Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. 9 They declared[b] to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. 11 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.[d] 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

billboardintegrityDaniel 6 English Standard Version (ESV)

Daniel and the Lions’ Den

6 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; 2 and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. 3 Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. 4 Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. 5 Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”

6 Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement[a] to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! 7 All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.

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Let’s put this in perspective, evil men (call them angry, bitter, sinful men that can very well be in our lives today) who completely bend the rules knowingly deceiving the Law (in this case, the King) for an outcome that they want for themselves.  Was this fair?  No!  Was this equal? No!  Could evil have prevailed?  Perhaps, if God willed it.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego even said that if even they were to parish in the fire that they would still worship God – that is Integrity of body, mind, spirit and strength.

What about for us today?  What if we work in an office or community or are collectively volunteering by others and this occurs to us (what if this even occurs to us by other professing Christians)?  Then what?  How should we proceed?  Do we fight, do we run and quit or how about this – we hold our integrity!  How about we let the Holy One work his greater plan out for us.  What if we pray for our enemies and for those who have us struck down and/or maligned?  What if, just what if, we prayed for God’s will in our life and lived in such a way that we heard His will for us on how to handle it, what to do?

So did the two stories in Daniel work out for these Godly men who trusted God and relied on their integrity to see them through:

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside[f] the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

19 Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. 20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” 23 Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. 24 And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.

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Sometimes when we live in these circumstances (and I have) it seems unbearable and unfair and that no one can ever understand the difficulty and stress that we are in.  Pray for these situations and ask God to give you the wisdom and discernment of how to proceed.  Try never to act out of anger – for that is not God’s will for our life.  When in doubt , seek His will first in our life by prayer and petition.

Stand on your character (that God has given to those who love Him), live by God’s word and His integrity.  Above all, trust the One who has gone before and will come after everything.

I like this poem:

Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny. (by Frank Outlaw)

Thoughts?

Blessings,

Dante