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Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.

-Daniel 6:3

How badly do you want that promotion at work? Badly enough to get to work early, to do more than what’s required, to take that extra course online to sharpen your skills? If not, you don’t want it badly enough. You have to stand out in the crowd.

Today’s Scripture says that Daniel “distinguished himself.” He was so excellent in his work, so skilled, so sharp, and had such a great attitude that he stood out among all the other young men. The king gave him a position of great leadership.

It doesn’t say, “God distinguished Daniel, made him stand out, made him excel.” It says that Daniel distinguished himself. He was willing to do what the other young men wouldn’t do. It wasn’t so much that he was more talented or more gifted; it was the fact that he wanted it more than they did. The question is, how big is your want-to?

Father, thank You for the gifts and talents and seeds of greatness that You’ve given me. Thank You that I have the opportunity to distinguish myself and become all You created me to be. I’m going to take steps to grow. I’m going to come up higher and excel. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin.

-Zechariah 4:10

When David went out to face Goliath, all he had was a slingshot and five smooth stones. It looked insignificant, ordinary, and certainly nothing special. But God breathed on him, and he defeated Goliath and became the king of Israel.

All Moses had was an ordinary stick, something he found on the ground, yet when he picked up that rod and held it in the air, the Red Sea supernaturally parted. Samson was surrounded by a huge army. All he had was the jawbone of a donkey. But he picked up that jawbone, God breathed on him, and he defeated a thousand men.

Don’t despise the day of small beginnings. Don’t look at what you have and say, “I can’t do anything great. I don’t have a lot of talent.” If you’ll use what God has given you, He will multiply it. He will not only bring your dreams to pass, but He will do more than you can ask or think.

Father, thank You that You rejoice to see me use what You have given me, and You will bring the increase as I trust in You. Thank You that a slingshot and five stones are enough to bring down a giant. I believe that nothing can keep me from my destiny. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Part XIII: Movie Night

Author’s Notes: This is a short one tbh. I wanted to give a less serious side of Joel and a reason for them to be fluffy in this one. Warning: There is a tiny bit of graphic imagery bc they are watching a horror movie.

Genre: Fluff

Summary: You and Joel spend the night in watching movies.

Ship: Joel x Reader

Movie nights were rare. You tried on multiple occasions to make it a tradition, but things always fell through. At first, you wanted to make it a community thing, then you boiled it down to just you, Joel, Tommy and Maria. Now, it’s just you and Joel and honestly, you liked it better that way. Joel was the one with a T.V. It was a nice, large flat screen that he never used unless you turned it on for movie night. Because Jackson is run off of electricity, DVDs are a hot commodity at the marketplace. A while back, you traded for a movie you’d never seen but always wanted to, so you were excited to put it on.

Joel walked in the living room with a bowl of popcorn. “What are we watchin’?” You showed him the DVD case. His eyebrows shot up. “You sure about this?”

“Why, have you seen it already?” You asked him.

“No, but I’ve heard things about it.” He looked at you as if he was warning you.

“Like what?”

“Like it’s disturbing and nightmare inducing. I remember the director’s cut version was unrated, that’s how scary it was supposed to be. Sarah begged me to take her to go see it.” He shook his head.

“Did you want to watch something else?” You asked.

“I told you that you could pick. We can watch it if you’re sure you can take it.”

“How bad can it be? Besides I have you to protect me from whatever malevolent force finesses its way off the screen and into real life.” You retorted in a bubly tone. He rolled his eyes and grunted in response as he plopped down next to you. Immediately, his arms snaked around your shoulders and pulled you into him.

It was hard for you to keep still during the whole movie. Sitting in one place allowed you to get enveloped in the plot and during certain scenes, that bothered you. You went from laying your head on Joel’s lap to curling up in a blanket on the other side of the couch. Currently, you were sitting on the floor between his legs, the blanket still shrouding most of your features.

“I thought you said you could handle it.” Joel spoke up for the first time since the movie started.

I thought you said that you’d protect me.” You retorted in a child like tone. Your eyes were glued to the screen as you spoke, waiting for the next jump scare.

“Technically, you said that.” He chuckled, to which you quickly glared at him. “You know I’ll always protect you, darlin. Now, why don’t you come back up here and sit next to me.” He patted the couch cushion. Silently, you did as he asked, almost knocking over the popcorn bowl in the process. As before, he wrapped his arm around you, but this time, he held on tighter so you couldn’t wiggle away.

“Oh my God!” You exclaimed all in one breath during a jump scare. “No. Uh uh. Nope! I can’t watch this anymore. I need you to tell me what’s going on.” Joel, confused, turned to you, only to find your whole body completely covered in the blanket.

“They’re dragging her to their camp. It’s littered with disemboweled corpses. Oh shoot! One of them hooded figures just pulled a knife out on her.” You whimpered as the sounds of foreign screams came from the speakers. “They just dragged another girl out. Uh oh.”

“What?” You asked.

“She just spit on the leader.”

“Clip her wings.” The female leader said from the TV. The sounds of banging, cracking and screams intermingled.

“What’s happening?” You asked with genuine concern.

“They’re…They’re…” Joel was hesitant to verbalize the level of violence being shown on the screen. In that moment, he was especially glad he did not allow Sarah to watch that. “They’re breaking her arm with a hammer.”

“Nope! Cut it off.” Your muffled voice demands.

“You’re not even looking at the screen. You already watched worse scenes than this toward the beginning.”

“I know, I know, but the way you described it was very scary. I don’t even want to imagine how they filmed that.”

“I don’t either.” Joel reached out for the remote and let the screen turn black before popping out the DVD. He may have seen his fair share of gruesome things in real life, but he had no desire to relive those moments, even for a movie.

“What should we watch now?” You asked, popping your head out the blanket.

“Still your night. All I can hope is that you redeem yourself with the next choice. How about you think about it while I go make some more popcorn.”


“Another one?” Joel asked as he saw the highly recognizable mask on the TV screen.”

“This isn’t just any horror movie! It’s a classic slasher flick; ahead of its time. It is simultaneously the blueprint for future slashers and a parody of the ones before it.” You explained excitedly.

Joel shrugged. “Never seen it.”

“You never saw Scream? Well, it’s my favorite horror movie, so you don’t have to worry about me. I know what happens in the end.” You grabbed the bowl from his hands and sat back down on the couch.


“Now, why would she keep picking up the phone?” Joel asked. “She has to know it’s the killer calling again.”


“(Y/N), There’s the killer! He’s right behind her!” He screams at the screen with a mouth full of popcorn.


“Where have I seen him before? I’ve seen him in somethin’.” Joel mumbled.

“Which one? That guy?” You pointed.

“No, the tall, blonde one.”

“Who, him?”

He hums a no. “Him.” He pauses the movie on his face.

“Oh! Matthew Lillard? He’s been in a lot of stuff.”

“Well, I know I’ve seen him in somethin’. I’ve been trying to figure it out this whole damn movie.”


“I said it! Didn’t I say it?” Joel glanced in your direction excitedly before grabbing a handful of popcorn. “I said it was gonna be the boyfriend! Now, what I didn’t see was his friend being in on it too. Everything makes so much sense now.” He let out a puff of air from his mouth, a sound similar to that of an explosion, to represent his mind being blown. “(Y/N)?” He turned to actually look at you. Tenderly, he rubbed your arm which caused you to snuggle deeper into his side.

Not wanting to disturb your peaceful state, he let you stay there like that for a few moments longer. Carefully, he detached himself from you and stretched. Still, you did not wake. He bent down and wrapped your arms around his neck and picked you up.

“We should do this again.” You whispered in a slumber laced tone. Joel hummed in agreement as he carried you upstairs.

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