Making Choices That Matter! #2

Sunday June 14th, 2015

Rev. Mouris Yousef, Pastor

Making Choices that Matter! #2

Daniel 1:1-16; Hebrews 11:32-40

This morning we continue with our series entitled “Making Choices that Matter.” In this series we are looking at some key Biblical characters and some Scripture passages of people who had to make some hard decisions. As we look at those stories from the Scriptures, we will be able to identify some important Biblical principles in the decision-making process. It is my hope as we look at some of those principles to learn how to make God-honoring choices; choices that matter.

Our text this morning is about four young men who came to a time of decision in their lives. They could either compromise and go with the flow, or they could stand their ground and live for the Lord. The circumstances they faced and the decisions they made set the course or the rest of their lives. Since this incident occurred, the names of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego have stood tall as the names of great heroes of the faith. Who would have ever heard of Daniel if he had compromised at this early stage of life? His name would be unknown to us today, and we would never have received these wonderful testimonies.

 

A Life Lived Without Compromise

As we examine the lives of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, we can see what does it mean to live a life without compromise. One of our major problems today as followers of Christ is compromise. Have you ever heard the story of the guy who could not decide what side he wanted to fight for during the Civil War? He put on the coat of the North and the trousers of the South, and guess what? He got shot at from both sides! This is what happens to the compromiser, the person who tries to live in two worlds. It’s one miserable place to be. Sadly, as I said earlier, there are many in the church today that live a compromised life.

As you and I go through life, there will always be times where we are going to have to make decisions to do the right thing. When these times come, and they most certainly will, we will either decide to go with God despite the cost. Or, we will choose to compromise. The truths contained in Daniel chapter 1 and Hebrews chapter 11 will help us as we face the serious crossroads of life. This morning I would like to speak for a little while on, “Conquering Compromise.” My prayer is that we can glean the strength that we need to always make our stand for the Lord.

 

The Problems at Hand

In Daniel chapter 1 we see that these four Hebrew young men faced several challenges. Each of these had the potential to derail them and lead them off on a spiritual tangent. However, the problems they faced, were not that different from those we face daily in our world. From Daniel chapter 1, we can see four ways compromise could’ve found it way to the lives of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Let me very briefly highlight these four ways based on Daniel chapter 1:

 

  1. A New Home

As we look at Daniel chapter 1, we figure out that these four young men were surrounded by all kinds of compromise. Around they year 580 B.C., the Babylonians attacked and conquered the land of Judea. They took with them the best young men of Judea to serve in their palaces. Among those taken to the exile were Daniel and his three friends. So, these young men are being planted in a new home. They are being planted in a foreign soil. They had been brought up in and around Jerusalem. There they were constantly reminded of their God and of His importance to life. They worshipped in the temple and were surrounded by the priests, the scribes, and the prophets.

 

Their reality is different now. They are slaves in Babylon. They are surrounded by heathen worship, heathen images and heathen people. It would’ve been easy to conform just to fit in. I am sure you’ve heard the phrase, “When in Rome do as the Romans do.” For the Christian, the danger is just as real. It is easy to be spiritual in church. It is easy to be godly around godly people. However, when we separate from the godly influences around us, can we stand our ground? On Monday July 20th we will watch the movie “God is Not Dead” here at our church.   I invite you to join us that night. In the movie, we see a young man, a college student, who stands his ground and defends his faith against his atheist professor and eventually makes a difference in the whole community.

 

  1. A New Knowledge

In verses 3-4 we see the four young men facing another danger. They are being taught a new knowledge. These young men were taught a new language and new ways of looking at life. All their lives, they had been exposed to Jewish wisdom. Now, they are being taught the wisdom of Babylon. They are being exposed to things they have never been exposed to before. There is much pressure being exerted on them to conform to the new world around them. The same dangers face the Christian in this world today. We are constantly being exposed to new ways of thinking and are being told that our way of looking at the world, through the eyes of God in the Bible, is outdated, ancient and intolerant.

 

  1. A New Diet

Daniel 1:5 the young men are provided a new diet. All their lives, these four young men had lived by the dietary laws handed down by the Lord. Now, they are faced with new food. Most likely, this food was unclean, by Jewish standards, and most of the meat had probably been sacrificed to idols. Therefore, it would have defiled these young men and made them unclean before the Lord. As Christians, we too are faced with choices that run contrary to the best that God has purposed for us. We are confronted daily by choices to either do or not do certain things that can cause us to be defiled.

 

  1. New Names

On the top of that, in verses 6-7, the young men are given new names. When these young men arrived in Babylon, they came carrying wonderful names. Each name carried with it a testimony to the person of God. Daniel – God is my judge. Hananiah – God is gracious. Mishael – God is without equal. Azariah – The Lord is my helper. When they arrived in Babylon, they were given new names. Daniel became Belteshazzar – which means, “Bel will protect.” Hananiah became Shadrach – which means, “Inspiration of the Sun.” Mishael became Meshach – which means, “Belonging to Aku.” Azariah became Abednego – which means, “Servant of Nego.” Nebuchadnezzar’s goal was to change their identity and hopefully their way of thinking, which never happened!

Friends, as we journey through life, there are going to be constant attempts by the enemy to get us to let down our guard, to conform to the world’s standards and to do things we know to be wrong. Friends, it is impossible to have both the acceptance of the world and the approval of our heavenly Father. In James 4:4, the Scripture puts it this way: “Don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” The sad truth is that millions of Christians around the world today are searching for a way to strike a comfortable compromise between their convictions and the wicked world in which we live. Values and principles are being negotiated! Can we stand our ground? Can we live a life without compromise? To God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen!

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