Daniel 1:1, 3a, 4 - In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it ... Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel ... youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom ... and competent to stand in the king's palace .... "
This devotion pairs with this weekend's Lutheran Hour sermon, which can be found at lutheranhour.org.
There we were, somewhere in Kansas, on I-70, headed west. And my dad told me, "Michael, promise me you'll read the book of Daniel." It was just me, my mom, and my dad in the car. My parents were dropping me off to start basic military training. And of all the last-minute bits of advice he could give me, this is what my dad said: "Read the book of Daniel."
My dad wanted me to read Daniel because he knew it would help me be a better witness for Jesus. Now, at the tender age of 18, I pretty much "knew" everything already, and I knew that Christians were supposed to be witnesses for Jesus. And I knew that I didn't want to be a witness. I didn't even know if I believed in Jesus at the time. Nonetheless, I did read the book of Daniel during basic training-or most of it. Since then, I've read it many times. As I read it, three truths pertinent to witnessing arise for me. I call these the "Three C's of Christian Witness." They are (1) COMPETENCE; (2) CONVERSATION; and (3) CARE.
To discover these truths, I encourage you to read the book of Daniel—or most of it. As you read it, be on the look-out for those three C's. First, there's COMPETENCE. Competence commends your confession of faith. When we meet Daniel and his friends, they are prisoners of war. They've been taken captive to serve the evil king of Babylon. But even there, God made them His witnesses. And the first thing they did was to become competent. They learned their jobs and did their jobs well. And when you and I do the same in our callings, that competence commends our confession of faith in Jesus.
The second C is CONVERSATION. Think of your words like a key. When you're at the right door but have the wrong key, what happens? You can't get in. So, also with words of witness. When Daniel and his friends were in Babylon, they keyed their words to that context. And those words unlocked conversations. And many Babylonians were brought a step closer to faith in the One True God.
The third C is CARE. Daniel and his friends sometimes resisted the influence of Babylon. They did so, not just to keep their consciences clean. They did it because they cared for their pagan neighbors, because they know the One True God, who cares for them. And when we care for our conversation partners, that care reflects Christ's own compassion for them, and for us.
When I went into the military, I wasn't ready to be a witness. So, you know what Jesus did for me? He sent me witnesses! And, if you listen to The Lutheran Hour this weekend, I'll tell you about them.
In the meantime, pray with me.
WE PRAY: Jesus, make us Your witnesses, competent, conversational, and caring, like You. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour.
1. What are your most important "callings"? How would you describe their duties and privileges?
2. What does it look like for you to grow more competent in one or more of those callings?
3. How have you seen someone express care for another person through a conversation? (For more information on expressing care in conversation, check out LHM's spiritual conversation resources at www.lhm.org/conversations.)
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