Living Strong in a Pagan Environment

Fresh Manna
by Pastor Tim Burt

I was talking with a Christian friend of mine who recently stepped into a new job. He loves the job as far as the work goes. He believes he has the perfect skills and experience to help the company and likes the companies vision and goals. But… he’s bothered that he’s never been so surrounded by non-Christians—people whose values are all over the map and who either call themselves atheists or agnostics, or simply don’t think through their lives in terms of God. Consequently, he feels like he sticks out like a sore thumb.

Do you ever feel surrounded by ungodly people? If so, do you let them pressure you or seduce you—dragging you into their mud? Do the problems they fear and go on and on about invade your life and jump on you? If so, now is the time to stop that from happening. And you have a great role model to look to. 

Daniel was a man taken captive and forced to live in the most pagan environment anyone could imagine. King Nebuchadnezzar, a pagan king, invaded Israel and tore and burned most of it down. His armies killed many of the people but took a few of the young leaders that had the most promising potential back to Babylon—the most pagan of environments. Daniel and three young men he was mentoring were brought back with him. No one else in this new pagan environment loved God or thought like Daniel did. Daniel was learned in God’s Word and wisdom and for that reason, he was different from all his peers. And from the beginning of his existence there, he was despised and hated. Daniel was a stand-out because of his godly wisdom, and was promoted in leadership. His pagan peers were jealous and did not like it. Even so, Daniel powerfully represented God and lived absolutely upright before the Lord. He did not and would not compromise his integrity. Whenever Daniel had a problem, he didn’t lean on his own strength or wisdom for a solution. His life pattern was to get on his knees—not out of panic or fear of some looming crisis, but because it was the place where he resolved every issue—at the throne of God in his heart!

The fact that Daniel and his three friends weren’t killed was the grace of God manifest in their lives. Without God’s grace, they would have been dead like all the others left behind! Time and time again Daniel had seen God’s hand rescue and help him. Daniel’s confidence wasn’t in himself. It was completely in the God of Israel. He knew they were a people in covenant with God, and that for those that lived for Him, they would see His hand of protection and blessing. And so he lived on his knees. He knew  and believed the words of Solomon, “In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge. (Proverbs 14:26 NKJV) Daniel had strong confidence, but it was completely and utterly in the Lord. I don’t believe he had a prideful bone in his body and that’s what made him so great!

At one point in his new leadership, his evil peers had created a law for the sole purpose of taking Daniel down. All the people were required to bow to an idol made in honor of Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel 6:10 NIV says, “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.”

I don’t know if you caught that, but it said he was giving thanks. He was doing this at a time when some cruel, jealous men just made major trouble for him. This was a wicked decree that would affect everything around him in a horrible way. It would cause him to be thrown into a lion’s den. Daniel didn’t panic. He trusted God, fell to his knees, and prayed. He gave thanks. He understood what we need to know and remember—that God was with him, guiding him and helping him. He knew God was his deliverer! And so, if you read the story of Daniel, you’ll read his miraculous stories of being delivered in every life-threatening situation.

I pray that each of us learn to fall into this beautiful place—on our knees, the place where miracles and grace happen. I pray we fall there either literally, or in our hearts—and frequently. I pray that we come to the Lord, not in panic, but in thanksgiving of His love and goodness and “thoughts of good and not evil to give us a hope and future…” Although we are not always faithful, the Lord always is!

Psalms 32:6 -7 NIV  “Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found…You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah”

In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt 

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Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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