THE STORY OF THE JOURNEY HOME #1: DANIEL IN EXILE: PUT GOD FIRST
(Pastor Chris Jordan – Beausejour Church)
To listen to or download the audio MP3, click HERE.
INTRO TO THE STORY:
For the past six weeks, we have looked at the kingdoms of Israel and Judah and their steady spiral down a slippery slope of sin, until they finally found themselves exiled to Babylon. That’s where we find ourselves at the beginning of this new series: The Journey Home.
OPENING TEXT: GOD’S PROMISE
“For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” (Jeremiah 29:10-12, NKJV).
- This is a wonderful promise from God! You may be in a dark and difficult season right now. But if you’re walking through a valley, keep walking! Never give up. (PREACH!)
BACKGROUND TO DANIEL’S STORY:
“1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god. 3 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, 4 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. 5 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. 6 Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 7 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.” (Daniel 1:1-7).
- Because of their sin, God’s people were sent into exile in Babylon.
- These four young teenagers were strangers in a foreign land.
1. DANIEL MAKES A GOOD DECISION:
“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.” (Daniel 1:8).
- Even as a young person with no parents around, he chose to put God first.
- QUOTE: “Daniel is teaching us as we walk on foreign soil; we must resolve ourselves not to become addicted to our culture.” (Randy Frazee, The Story Video Curriculum).
- In a similar way, we are strangers passing through life on the Earth. This is not our home!
- The result of Daniel honouring God? “Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs.” (Daniel 1:9).
- Daniel and his three friends were healthier, stronger and wiser than the others.
PREACH IT! “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2).
- How are we not conformed to the world? Refuse gossip, unforgiveness, selfishness.
- How are we transformed? Into the image of Jesus: The fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
2. THE SQUAD REFUSES TO COMPROMISE:
ILLUSTRATION: Do you know what ‘the squad’ is? It’s a close-knit group of friends. Before Caleb went off to Bible College, he had a squad: Martin, Phil, Brandon, Harrison, Austin. Close good friends! Caleb’s moved to BC, but the squad still comes over to our house to hang out!
- Daniel’s three friends were the original ‘squad.’ In chapter two, when the King decrees that all of the wise men will be put to death if they don’t interpret his dream, the four of them get together and pray and God gives them the answer!
“Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.” (Daniel 3:1).
- The three teen boys refuse to worship an idol of Nebuchadnezzar.
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18).
- As punishment they are thrown into a fiery furnace, but are not killed.
- A fourth person is seen in the fire. Many people believe this was Jesus!
- “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me.” (Psalm 23:4). When we go through storms, Jesus is there with us!
- The Result? “Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God!” (Daniel 3:28).
- When we refuse to compromise, God is glorified!
- Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16).
3. DANIEL PUTS GOD FIRST:
Babylon is conquered by the Persians, and Daniel continues to serve the new king, Darius.
“It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps, to be over the whole kingdom; 2 and over these, three governors, of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them, so that the king would suffer no loss. 3 Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm.” (Daniel 6:1-3).
- Darius’s officials were jealous of Daniel and plot to trap him by convincing Darius to have all people pray to Darius for 30 days and if they disobey, they would be killed.
- “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.” (Daniel 6:10). What a testimony! Daniel knew he had to put God first.
- Because of Daniel’s actions, he was thrown into a lion’s den, but an angel protected him!
- The Result? “I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God.” (Daniel 6:26).
THE BIG IDEA: If we want to honour God, and make a difference in our world today, we must make a good decision, refuse to compromise, and put God first.
“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:11-12).
- The earth is not our home! We are on the journey home – to Heaven.
- Let’s live like the citizens of heaven that we are, and bring glory to God in all we do.
Pastor’s Blog: https://pastorchrisjordan.wordpress.com/