Daniel “had purposed in his heart not to defile himself” (Daniel 1:8). This was courageous, and it speaks to you and me today. As a teenager Daniel was kidnapped and taken as a captive to a hostile and terrifying land. He was uprooted and torn away from his loved ones, which must have been a traumatic experience that left deep scars. Bewildered, scared and forsaken, he found himself a prisoner in the court of a decadent king. The immoral and cynical monarch renamed him “Belteshazzar,” which meant “Bel will reign over me; Bel, I will follow and honor.” Bel was an idol of that era, the object of demonic and disgusting worship and idolatry.
The king ordered Daniel to completely conform to the philosophy, mentality, and practices of the court and the country. He was thrown into a sewer of immorality, lust, cruelty and violence, but Daniel was a man of great faith. By His Spirit, God had engraved a mission, a vision and different values on Daniel’s heart. By faith he would always refuse the name Belteshazzar. Chapter after chapter, we see him resolute, supernaturally empowered to resist, allowing no one to change what he was called to be and the One for whom he stood. The name “Daniel” means “God will be my judge.”
Dear reader, this resolution is for you! If tragedy, injustice or life itself has tried to “brand a name” on you, you can and must resist by the power of God and by faith. You can reply to the enemy of your soul and destiny by simply saying that, “God is my judge, my source, my future, my hope and my power. He has not spoken His last words yet!”
Maybe your “name,” life history and reality can be described by words such as: abused, forgotten, loser, criminal, unfaithful, in bondage, a failure, divorced, suicidal, tragedy, deception or suffering. These tragic experiences and seasons in your life have made you the person you are today. I want to say to you, as I gently lift your chin and look you in the eyes, “God has a message for you today, wherever you are in the world. You can make a decision and come to God in faith with a resolution.”
I understand that we are often products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of our past. By crying out to God in faith, releasing your life into His hands every day and receiving His Spirit who makes all things new and possible, you can put to death what has been your past, and stop tendencies and habits that you will no longer allow to limit or define you.
Claude Houde, lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada, is a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences conducted by World Challenge throughout the world. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.