I forgot to write the notes down from last Sunday, but this flows better with two Sundays of notes.
We are delving into the book of Daniel at church and really the message that we are all Daniels living in a less than Jesus friendly environment is never going to change. If you are a Jesus follower, then this is your Babylon. The world is never going to be for you, never going to follow God the way you do – we live in a fallen world and the headlines on the news every day show us that when men harden their hearts – evil abounds. So, how do we change that?
First – what is your identity? What is your purpose? If you don’t know who you are or what you are doing here – it is very easy for the world to get to you. Through isolation – making you believe that you are the only person who does that Jesus thing. Through indoctrination – teaching things other than what you believe. Through identity confusion – if you don’t know that you are a son or daughter of the King, you can be made to believe anything about who you are, how you were made and what your future holds. Living in Babylon, Daniel and his friends were pushed to become Babylonian. They were given new names, fed different food, separated from their tribe, taught new ideas and told that they were no longer one thing, but another. But none of this changed Daniel and his friends because they knew WHO they were and WHAT their purpose was and WHY they were there. The culture we live in constantly changes, are you pulled back and forth in the flow? Or are you a constant, knowing who you are, what you are doing here and who placed you for that purpose?
If you don’t know who you are:
you are loved,
you are unique,
you are special,
you are amazing,
you were created for a purpose,
you are not defined by your circumstances,
you are not defined by your past,
you are saved – if you want to be,
by grace – which you can’t earn,
you wear a crown if you are a Jesus follower because you are a son or daughter of a King.
Secondly – choices. We all make choices every day. Big ones, small ones, but your life is a series of choices. If you know who you are then you have a line in the sand. When you need to make a choice, make it a God honoring one. When temptation comes, you have a place to look if you know where the boundary is – if you want to honor God, then your choice is sure. Honor God with your actions. Don’t fall for the peer pressure of ‘everyone’s doing it’ or ‘no one here knows you, so you can do something you wouldn’t normally do’. Could Daniel have eaten the food that was offered to him? Yes, no one there knew him, no one would know if he broke a rule – but he honored God with his actions, he declined to eat the food that he knew was not going to honor God. Honor God with how you treat others. The guards respected Daniel because he did his job well and was courteous and respectful to those around him. Honor God with your words. Words are powerful, written or spoken, so use them to honor not to defile. Honor God with your knowledge. Daniel and his friends were given more resources and learned a lot in their training time. The more the knew, the better they were able to serve, the better they were at serving the more people they influenced. They were able to show and tell others about God because they made a choice – to honor God in everything they did.
Living in a fallen world is not easy. I can’t change others, but I can change myself. Knowing who I am, why I am here, making God honoring choices and tending to my purpose here helps me on my path and helps others too.