Greetings. What are Christians known for? That is a question worth pondering and often we can be known for more what we are against than what we are for. Daniel and his friends faced issues they never had to deal with in their homeland. It is interesting what Daniel and his friends chose to say, “No” to and what they were willing to live and deal with. How can we follow similar decision-making principles and apply those principles to our lives? Read on. Mike
DANIEL – WHEN TO DRAW A LINE IN THE SAND
In today’s world, as Christians we have opportunity to develop opinions on many things and then share those opinions on quite a variety of media outlets. It is good to have viewpoints on what we face in life. The focus here is not what your opinions or viewpoints are, or how often you post those thoughts, but to take a step back and figure out where those thoughts are coming from. Additionally, the focus involves working through what thoughts are worth making opinions about and what ones are best to keep to oneself.
The context for this discussion comes from Daniel 1. We read numerous young men were taken to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar when his army invaded Judah and besieged Jerusalem. These topnotch, quality young men were brought into an extremely nice situation where they were taught the language and literature of Babylon for three years plus were given new names. Included in this training period was a new diet which came right from the king’s table. These young men were treated royally.
As you read Daniel 1, Daniel did not object to being given a new name, learning the language nor being taught an education that had nothing to do with Jehovah God. Yet, he drew a “line in the sand” when it came to the food they were given. Why?
Education on learning about Jehovah God seemed to be pretty limited back in Judah but Daniel and his three friends learned enough about God before being captured and taken to Babylon that they knew what they should stand up against or what was going to really impact their understanding of being a Hebrew. They knew that in worshipping God, what kind of food they were to eat, played a significant role. Thus, from whatever religious training they had back home caused them to take a stand.
Bring this forward to our world, developing a worldview (how you look at the world because of a certain philosophy of life or concept of the world) from the Bible is essential to dealing with the circumstances and viewpoints that enter our lives. Learning what is in the Bible, being obedient and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you creates a biblical worldview. Atheism, communism, Hinduism, Islamic, Buddhist, Judaism and capitalism are some of the major worldviews seeking to capture your mind. If you are a Christian, a believer in Jesus Christ, developing a worldview from the Scriptures is paramount.
Daniel and his three friends could be captured and placed in a foreign, God depleted culture and thrive as believers in Jehovah God. They knew what God expected of them. They gained credibility as they studied. Even though Daniel’s foreign name was in reference to a foreign god to effect Daniel’s naturalization and alienate Daniel from worshipping Jehovah God, Daniel did not object to that. Their minds, their thinking process pursued God.
If you read the rest of chapter one and also the following chapters in Daniel, the four friends first of all pursued Jehovah God with all their heart, mind and soul. God gave them insight to devise an alternate diet which left them healthier and better nourished. Plus, God gave them knowledge and understanding in many realms including Daniel’s ability to interpret dreams.
Like mentioned above, the point of this discussion is to point us to aggressively pursue a biblical worldview which in turn, will help develop your opinions and viewpoints. Unfortunately, in our world today, the truth is that Christians are known more for what we are against, not what we are for.
Caution needs to be exercised when sharing our viewpoints. One standard I am developing in my life is as I am working through developing my biblical worldview, is asking myself, “What I am willing to die for?”. Whether it was in this chapter, Daniel 3 or Daniel 6, all four of these friends accepted the consequences of their courageous stands for they were ready to die for what they believed.
I have a lot of preferences and viewpoints that I am not willing to die for. Someone once said that if he did not want to show courage in what he was saying, then all he was doing was making noise.
Jesus is God. He came to this earth, died for my sins and rose bodily from the grave so that I am forgiven of my sins and have eternal life. That is His gracious gift He offered to me, and I accepted that gift. I am working out my faith in Him and attempting everyday to show grace and His love to others, to help point them to this salvation gift from Jesus.
YOUTH MINISTRY – SOWING AND REAPING
Don’t you wish that there would be a “do over” button or app on your phone, that when you do something wrong that has devastating consequences or after experiencing an activity, you wish you could do it again because that was so enjoyable and great? Well, we do not have such a gift available to us on this earth so it is hard to replicate a wonderful experience or undo the damage of a bad decision.
The truth is whatever we sow, we reap. We find this principle in the book of Galatians, chapter 6, verses 7-9. “ Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
In our youth the tendency is to think that this truth only applies to older people and as a youth, we have many years to undo wrongs or overcome bad consequences. It is true that over time, some wrongs can be made right, or consequences can become positive. Unfortunately, this is a rarity and there is no “do over” app on the phone.
If we do wrong, sinful things, we will reap and experience consequences that do not honor God. We will deal with pain, suffering and hardships God never wanted us to experience. But we have free will because God created us in His image, so we have the understanding and ability to choose between right and wrong, good and evil.
Due partly to the process of our developing brains between birth and our mid-twenties, we may be slow to consider negative, debilitating or evil consequences when in deciding an action and activity or when we are in the midst of a situation with little time to think or react. This is where older adults and parents can be the buffer to help us with understand what potential consequences may be.
In the same vein choosing to make good, quality decisions can offer lifetime of joy, happiness and great rewards. When we become Christians, we have the Holy Spirit (and older Christians) to guide us. A great piece of advice is to listen to Him and godly Christians. Never get tired of doing the right thing, though often the doing the right thing is harder than doing the wrong or sinful thing.
Getting interested in a person of the opposite sex is normal as it has occurred since the beginning of time and over a period of time, you are drawn together to desire a sexual relationship. God clearly indicates and that is backed up by solid Christians that we need to wait until we get married to get involved sexually, even though every fiber of our bodies want to enjoy each other sexually.
Sex is one of the most wonderful, enjoyable gifts God has given to humans but in the right context. It is not that God is a cosmic kill-joy and says to every single person, that, “Ha, Ha, You can’t have it because you are not special enough!” No, He created this gift for something extraordinarily special and when used in the right context of being married, you sense how special you are in His eyes. Children are often the result of sexual involvement and God knew best that the best opportunity for a child to be raised and developed the way we should is having a family, a mom and dad who loves and provides structure to grow up.
If we get ahead of God in this area of our sexual life, hardships, pain and grave consequences so often result. God did not intend for this to happen. But what we do has negative or positive consequences, depending on whether we are willing to do the right thing. It is up to us each and every day to sow positive or negative seeds in our lives. Do not be surprised by the results as God clearly indicates to us.