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Dr. Jay P. Cook, Pastor

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He Decided to Be on the Dinner Menu
Daniel 1:8-17

Children’s Moments:
What type of people do we remember?  You have short memories – but can you name a person who had become a hero to you?  I want to tell you of a hero. I am not old enough to have known him – nor is anyone else in that old.  He was a hero found in the Old Testament that means before Christ was born.  Well over 2000 years ago.  I want you to help me retell the story of a famous man in the Old Testament – his name was Daniel.  What do you remember about the man Daniel?  Do you know the story of Daniel?

  1. Daniel was about 16 when the world that he lived was destroyed by the nation of Babylon.  Devin and Miriam’s age.  He was not very old. 
    1. At 16 he was good looking, strong, and wise.
    2. Because he was strong, wise and good looking he was taken from his home.
    3. Along with other young men and women; he was taken into captivity along with some of his friends. 
    4. They were taken to Babylon. The king of Babylon was Nebuchadnezzar – he wanted the best of the best that Judah offered.
  1. He gets in trouble right away – he refused to eat all the fast foods and junk foods of the palace.  He kept to a strict diet that kept him strong and wise.
    1. The staff at palace found this out and reported him and 3 of his friends to the king. 
    2. The king was angry but Daniel convinced the King to see who would be better prepared for physical and mental test.
    3. The King discovered that Daniel and his friends were more physically, mentally, and spiritually fit.
  2. Later King Nebuchadnezzar encounters the God of Daniel when Daniel interprets the king’s dream that no else could. 
  1. His three friends get into trouble because they wouldn’t bow to the golden image.  The law was either Bow or Burn. 
    1. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – stood firm and would not bow to the golden image
    2. So they were put into the fiery furnace with the flames burning around them they stood firm in belief of God and were not consumed by the fire.  In fact a 4th figure occurs in the fiery boiler – maybe Jesus Christ Himself.
  1. Nebuchadnezzar and his royal family are defeated by Darius the Persian conqueror.
  1.  Darius elevates Daniel to high position because of his common sense and wisdom. This makes some of his own men angry, who thought they should be in power.
    1. These jealous men schemed against Daniel.  Daniel’s enemies had Darius sign into law that no one could pray to their gods – but they were only to pray to Darius. 
    2. Of course Daniel kept up his daily prayer.  He gets to be on the dinner menu of the lions.   
    3. The lions had no contact with Daniel but they did have a nice dinner after Daniel is freed.
  1. Daniel continues to give wise advice and interpret dreams.  

Daniel was a man that lived totally outside the box of the world he lived in.  He didn’t allow his world to defile him or define the way he ought to live. To be a Christian we must be willing to do things out of the norm.  It is like we are swimming against the current.

There are some important lessons about living outside the world’s box, being a Christian we can learn from the life of Daniel:

  1. To live outside the world’s standard – to be a Christian we must be resolved to not defile ourselves with the world’s standardsWe must be resolved to stay on the God’s path.  Verse 8 says that Daniel made up his mind not to defile himself…
    1. Practice number one, for Daniel was to do it God’s way.  Daniel didn’t want to dishonor God by eating food that had been offered to idols. 
    1. To stay on the right path, God’s path, we must decide in advance what we will do and say when we are tempted to do it the world’s way. 
    1. So when areas occur at the spur of the moment that tests our conviction we need to be prepared to stay true to our path. 
    1. Matthew 6:33 … seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.   Seeking first his kingdom is a conscience choice it is a matter of making God’s desires our primary concern.
      1. It is a decision on our part to live righteously or sinfully.
      2. So, what is your decision? God’s Way or the highway. 
  1. When we decide to live outside the world’s box we need to receive God’s favor – we need to receive the Holy Spirit’s power to make it living outside the box (vs. 9).  God provided favor to Daniel when he decided to live according to God’s will.  When we choose to not be conformed to this world God is going to do the transforming. 
    1. Luke 2:52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
    1. In Psalms it tells us that:
      1. Psalm 84:11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
      1. Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart's desires. 
    1. To live outside the world’s way we need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.  That is the favor that we need from God.
    1. I believe that opens opportunities for our lives in ministry and life as we dedicate ourselves to Him. 
  1. When we live outside of the world’s box we need to expect our faith to be tested.  If you stand your ground outside the box expect worldly ways to test you.   

Illustration:  Before Westinghouse closed in Pgh. My brother Jim was an electrical tester.  He tested the big transformers that hang on the poles and also the big generators.  There were times that he was told to get things out in a hurry.  And he would tell his supervisor that too much was at stake and he wouldn’t be hurried and it wouldn’t pass until he was satisfied.  If they wanted to put their tested code number on it that was fine with him but as long as his number was on the equipment it would be done right.

    1. Along with the testing of our faith comes difficulties, distractions and even persecutions.  2 Tim. 3:12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 
    1. 1 Cor. 10:13 But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.
  1. When we live outside the world’s box we need to maintain a positive attitude. 
    1. One of the reasons that I think the Church doesn’t have the impact that should is because we have a tendency to be like Eeyore in life.  We come across as if we swallowed a lemon or worse.  We tend to be too negative.
    1. Through out the story of Daniel we never had the “Whoa is me” attitude.  I mean if anyone had a right to be a grumbler it would be Daniel. 
      1. He was captured and taken as a prisoner to Babylon at 16. 
      1. Removed from his home and everything he accustom to.
      1. His friends were put in a fiery furnace
      2. He was able to interpret dreams and they weren’t always good news
      1. He was a good administrator and the rulers liked him but other were jealous of him and plotted against him
      1. Because he wouldn’t compromise his faith he was put on the lions’ dinner menu

C.  He knew the importance of keeping positive in the midst of difficult times.

  1. Lastly if we are to live outside of the world’s standards then we have to harness the power of prayer.  The key to the other elements of living outside the box: the positive attitude, the perseverance in times of testing, trusting in the Holy Spirit’s power – having God’s favor, and staying on the straight and narrow are all under girded by prayer.  The foundation of living out godly lives is prayer.  
    1. 1 Thes. 5:18 tells us to give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.   He is not saying give thanks for everything that happens to you, but rather in everything give thanks.
      1. We aren’t called to give thanks for those lousy things but rather we are called to give thanks in the situation because if we are living in God’s will things are going to work out. 
    1. James 5:16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.
    1. I believe that as we pray for each other and for ourselves to remain faithful God will honor that and provide for us. 

The latest film on The Alamo is a historical reenactment of the 1836 siege of the San Antonio fort, in which a small band of brave Texans were killed by General Santa Anna's Mexican army. Among those who died in the battle were famous frontiersmen Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett.
Before the Alamo, Crockett's exaggerated exploits were made famous through plays about his life. Folk lore portrayed Davy Crockett as a bigger-than-life champion who "wore a coonskin cap, jumped the Mississippi River, caught a cannonball, and rode a lightning bolt." For the doomed defenders who are surrounded and trapped inside the Alamo, the heroic Crockett is a source of courage.
On a dark evening inside the Alamo, Jim Bowie (Jason Patric) and Davy Crockett (Billy Bob Thornton) stand near a fire. Crockett looks out at the wide-open Texas land. Bowie wraps himself in a blanket and asks, "Makes a man ponder the possibilities doesn't it?" But then Bowie turns to Crockett's reputation for coonskin caps and frontier heroism: "What happened to your cap? Crawl away?"
"No," Crockett replies, "I only wear it when it's extra cold. The truth is, I only started wearing that thing because of that feller in that play they did about me. People expect things."
"Ain't it so," Bowie says. "Can I ask you something?"
"All right."
"Now which was tougher, jumping the Mississippi or riding that lightning bolt?"
Suddenly, a cannon fires in the distance, and Bowie asks, "Can you catch a cannonball?"
Crockett says, "If it was just me, simple old David from Tennessee, I might drop over that wall some night and take my chances. But that Davy Crockett feller they're all watchin' him."

Daniel was being watched to and he remained on course.  He may not have worn a coon skin cap or catch cannonballs in his mouth but he remained faithful and never did become dinner for those lions.  The World Is Watching Us - You are being watched. 

Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.