Is it possible to walk closely with God and really be totally fulfilled in your life?
We’ve heard about Daniel – most of us probably about him in the Lion’s Den. Well, today we’re going to start a while before that event.
Daniel 1:3-16 – (King is Nebuchadnezzar – of Babylon) - Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs. And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king.”
So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.” So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days.
And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies. Thus the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.
You know – When Steve spoke about having set a personal dietary need, it was intriguing to me – because the only people who I have known to be Vegan or Vegetarians were either people that had certainly biological intolerances or were tree-huggers.
I’m not saying, that after reading this and learning of someone being a believer in Jesus and a Vegan, that I’m going to just turn away from what I’ve known all these years, BUT – if gives me pause, to meditate on and pray about what God wants to do with me in this area of my life.
See, Daniel was brought into a new world from what he was used to. He had so much going for himself and was brought into the fold of the highest king of the land, Nebuchadnezzar. This king wanted to teach him and the others about the Chaldean language and literature. He set an allotment of food – of delicacies and wine and was to train them for 3 years. Daniel believed that he would be defiled by taking in these delicacies and wine and so he asked that he not be made to ingest them. The chief eunuch agreed and Daniel was no worse for the wear, in fact, he looked better than those that did indulge, after only 10 days.
3 years later, Daniel and the three had trained their appetite, so that they didn’t become dependent on anyone else, but God. The food and drink did not become their god.
At the end of the chapter, it reads:
Daniel 1:18-20 - Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.
What an amazing situation, 4 men who were not willing to compromise themselves, by becoming addicted to the luxuries of the life they were thrust into. Daniel however was given an extra gift, to interpret dreams which ultimately led to him being separated from Shadrach Meshach and Abed-Nego – as Daniel stayed in the king’s court and the others went off to deal with the affairs of Babylon.
At this point, seems like everyone was ok, with all these guys loving God. But something changed.
Daniel 3:8-30 - Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. They declared to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. Because the king's order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king's counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
It doesn’t always end up this way. Do the right thing and end up getting rewarded on earth for it. Initially no, they were sent off to the fire, but God watched over them – he saved them – because they held true to their convictions.
So, what do we put into our bodies?? Pull out the container. This is representative of one of our bodies. Pull out everything from the sacks and put them in the box, by pulling out the multiple bags with categories of items.
Started with bracelets – how we have to buy the bling, to impress others or ourselves. (tossed in one by one)
Add in the sports and hobbies, what we spend our time on. (toss in a soccer ball, golf ball, softball)
Toss in a bible as well – mentioning that if we just have it collecting dust, it isn’t being useful.
Then what do we take into our mind, through our eyes?
Scripture quotes: (each one on a piece of paper read out loud, as they are dropped into the box – again which represents a person)
Rom 12:2: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Prov 3:6: in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Prov 3:5: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
Matt 28:19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 18:9: One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.
Rom 3:23: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
John 14:6: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Matt 28:20: and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Isa 40:31: but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
1 Pet 3:15: But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
Heb 13:5: Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Isa 41:10: So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Matt 11:29: Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Acts 1:8: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
2 Tim 1:7: For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
Multiple pieces of paper with separate topics on them, tossed into the box after they are read.
Every one of these things are put into our mind, it is part of our appetite and what we fill ourselves with on a daily basis. What is it that you put into your mind? What is part of your diet?? What fills your appetite?
During a hard time in your life, what do you lean on? (Reach into the box and grab a random item)
Or what about some huge conflict in your life, how do you cope with it? (Reach into the box and grab a random item)
Or what about a disaster – loss of family or a child or whatever means the most to you – what is it that you turn to – to get you through that catastrophic situation? (Reach into the box and grab a random item)
Remember, we can only use tools that we continue to sharpen in our lives. Whatever you spend your time on, is what you will be able to call upon in a time of need. What did you pull out???
A lot of people, their answer is that they fall onto a crutch, something to “get them by”, falling back to a bad habit, or even numbing out, for hours, weeks, years or maybe just giving up… What do you do, to keep sharp for those hard times??? If you don’t think the way you deal with things is praying to Jesus, focusing on His word and leaning on Him – then I’d challenge you to rethink your emergency plan.
Finish off with a clip from Ravi Zacharias: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UWlJuVXeC4
Minutes 16:48 – 28:27