Sun. a.m. AGCC 7/7/96
(see also: 5/13/87)
TEXT: Dan. 1:1-21
INTRO: We just celebrated
"Independence Day"...the day that celebrates our freedoms! We take for granted
the many freedoms we have. Freedom is celebrated as the great gift of
mankind...so much so that for thousands of years men have fought and given their
lives for "freedom's call"! Yet there is something even more precious than the
kind of freedom we celebrate that is our civil freedom...this is freedom from
sin! The greatest gift is note FREEDOM, it is FAITH!
Your freedom can be taken away, but not your faith, this you have to give
away! "INDEPENDENCE" is not as important as "DEPENDENCE" upon God!
In God's service, the loss of freedoms can actually be the seed bed for
unique opportunities. In fact, as Christians we sometimes have to be willing to
give up our freedoms in order to serve others in faith. Have we lost something
when those freedoms are offered up? No if we hold to our faith and
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches
that the greatest gift to mankind is not freedom, it is faith! Faith is not
restricted by the loss of freedoms, in fact, restrictions provide unique
opportunities to reveal Christ to a fallen world that is in fact not "FREE" but
enslaved to sin!
I. LOSS BECOMES GAIN! 1:1-7
A. Royalty 1:1-4
1. Daniel and his 3 buddies were probably nobles, possibly of royal blood.
a. Out of anybody, they had the most freedom!
b. They were use to a life where others waited on them.
2. Daniel might have even been destined to rule some day over the land of the Jews.
a. God however had bigger plans, why rule over a small area of Judah when God could make Daniel a SERVANT and have him rule over the whole world!?
b. God redefines "ruling"...in His vocabulary those who "rule" do so by "serving"!
3. Daniel was a young man...he could come and go as he pleased, have anything he wanted, no freedom was denied him...but all this was going to change...and for the better in many ways!
a. Daniel could do more for God and His kingdom by restricting his freedoms than giving them to him.
b. "Servanthood" usually means the loss of freedoms, but it doesn't mean the loss of God's power!
4. Suddenly all his freedoms are gone...he is a young man, at the time in his life when he looked forward to all those freedoms, now he is a slave!
a. What he had known as freedom was now gone!
b. But what about his faith in God? It was just beginning to
B. Restricted! 1:5-7
1. Restriction was now a way of life!
a. He could have moaned over his loss of freedoms.
b. He suddenly finds himself in a secular and sinful society having to hold down a tough job!
c. He can no longer come and go as he pleases.
2. BUT...he still has plenty of opportunities to show his faith in God!
a. In fact, in some ways, his restrictions will enable him to reach people he would never have had opportunity to reach before!
b. His focus shifts from his "freedoms" to his "duties".
c. No one can take our "freedom" to honor God away from us, only if we throw it away!
3. Now that things are really tough, what is Daniel's focus?
a. Was it getting back his freedom? No!
b. Or was it finding ways to live out his life for God's glory no matter where he finds himself? YES!
c. Freedom was not his greatest goal, honoring God was!
4. We would do so much better in this country if we would learn the same lesson, it is not what my right are that is most important, it is whether people are right with God or not!
5. Tough times can actually sharpen our opportunities to serve Christ,
even with less freedom!
ILLUS: After Potatoes are harvested they have to be spread out and
sorted in order to get the maximum market dollar. They are divided according to
size ... big, medium, small. It is only after potatoes have been sorted and
bagged that they are loaded onto truck ... this is the method all Idaho potato
farmers use .... except one man! One farmer never bothers to sort his potatoes
before going to market, and he makes the most money! A puzzled neighbor finally
asked him what his secret was. He said, "It's simple, I just load up the wagon
with potatoes and take the roughest road to town. During the 8 mile trip the
little potatoes always fall to the bottom, the medium ones always stay in the
middle, and the biggest ones rise to the top from all the harsh bouncing around!
If you want the best potatoes, take them down the roughest road and they will
show up on top!
6. It has never been freedom that has converted the lost soul...it has
been men and women of faith who used every opportunity to serve Christ that has
resulted in others finding Christ too!
II. LESS BECOMES GAIN! 1:8-16
A. Resolved! 1:8
1. Daniel could accept the loss of his freedoms, but not compromise his faith!
a. Daniel would not do anything that would send a signal that he would compromise God's Word ... not for anyone's freedom!
b. Daniel could handle living in a secular society like Babylon, but not by living like them!
c. There is an important message in Daniel's example here: he is quite willing to follow the rules as long as they didn't make him go against God's Word.
2. Daniel drew the line with God's Word ... do we?
3. He would live without his freedoms, but he was not willing to live without his faith!
4. Note that he makes every effort however to keep his faith intact while finding a satisfactory solution to do his secular work also!
a. Most believers would have simply said, "Well, hey, you have to go along with them if you want to get ahead in this world...that is the way it works!"
b. or, "So I compromised a little ... the big things I won't"
c. after all, was eating food from the King of Babylon's table such a big
deal? It was to Daniel ... he knew that if he started to compromise a little, it
made it easier to do more of it later!
B. Reputation 1:9-14
1. Daniel's attitude toward loss had already won him friends in this ungodly nation.
2. Daniel works out a plan to protect everyone - secular & spiritual without compromising his own faith!
a. For 10 days the guard would only bring vegetables and water ... if he didn't look better than the other slaves after this time, Daniel would eat meat sacrificed to idols!
(1. Notice Daniel's confidence in God's Word!
(2. Notice too Daniel's decisions were based on clear commands of Scripture, not personal choices.
(3. Daniel is not willing to force others to obey God's Word, but sets the example himself!
(4. If this worked or didn't work the guard would be safe since it would only be a test for 10 days, if it didn't work there was still time to fatten him up before he appeared before the king, thus preserving the guard's life either way.
b. The king would not suffer any loss! Daniel was still prepared to serve and do his best.
c. The only one who could lose was God ... and He never does!
3. Daniel's willingness to have less because God's Word was clear will
become a great gain to him and others.
ILLUS: A man by the name of Worral had been stricken with
Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 15. When he was 45 years old he was totally
paralyzed except for 1 finger, and he could barely speak and was totally blind.
But, with his 1 good finger he tied a string to a recorder that he used to
dictate articles for a national magazine. He was thus a writer, an author of
several book ... and believe it or not, he lived a happy and influential life
from his bed! After many years of prayers and no healing, he accepted his
condition and asked god to help him "stake out a life in the size plot given
him" by God! He asked God to help him show the world what he can grow on his
little plot. Though he had few freedoms, he influenced thousands with his wisdom
and writings. Faith was greater than his loss of freedoms! And, he honored God
in great ways!
4. His attitude won him the respect of his captors ... and they did everything they could to help him live for God!
a. Even if the world doesn't accept God's Word, if we live it right, they will at least respect God's Word ... and God's people!
b. No doubt Daniel's prior record helped speak for him.
5. Daniel's reputation was spotless and consistent!
C. Respectful! 1:15-16
1. Did you notice in verse 12 that Daniel when making his request not to go along with idolatry asked by saying, "PLEASE TEST YOUR SERVANT..."!
a. Attitude is everything sometimes...he doesn't make self-righteous pronouncements on how wicked Babylonians were and how they are all going to Hell in a hand basket!
b. He doesn't lift himself up above the rest of the world .. he calls himself a servant!
c. This kind of approach to godliness got the world's attention ... and respect!
2. There was a noticeable difference in Daniel and his 3 friends from the rest of the wise men of Babylon!
a. God's Word should make us look different to the world
b. The world should see men and women of faith as reliable and solid, because our lives really reflect this!
c. The world is hungry to believe something, let's give them something
solid to believe in through our example, not just our dogma!
ILLUS: It should not be hard to show the world a "real" God! They
are looking to believe in something, what are we showing them? Just look at the
stuff the world tries to believe in: In some grocery tabloids here were some of
the recent headlines: *DINOSAURS HONKED LIKE BUICKS *COW MATTRESSES HELP COWS
PRODUCE MORE MILK *MOM TO BE ON A DIET OF ONLY CHICKEN LAYS HUGE EGG! *WW II
BOMBER FOUND ON MOON! *WOMAN GIVES BIRTH TO 2 YEAR OLD BABY: CHILD WALKS &
TALKS IN 3 DAYS! *ADAM & EVE'S BONES FOUND IN ASIA: EVE WAS A SPACE ALIEN!
What would consistent faithful Christians show the world to believe in if they
could be exposed to the real thing?
3. Daniel would not give up, nor did he make any plans that jeopardized any unsaved person, he used wisdom in living for God and showing what God can do in the life of a believer.
a. The Babylonians could see with their own eyes a difference between the believers and the non-believers! Do you think the world can today?
b. Do we fight for our freedom or for our faith? Daniel had much less freedom, but more faith to follow God and lead by example in an ungodly nation than he did when living in Jerusalem!
4. An entire heathen nation was about to get a good dose of what living for God can be like .. and the difference it can make, all because a few believers who now had less, but could give more!
a. Babylonians who would never have heard about God would find out just how great God is, the price of captivity for God's people would now make this possible!
b. Less was about to be gain!
5. Daniel did no give up: "Go as far as you can see, and when you get there you will always be able to see further!" .. this is what Daniel did!
a. God had not let him down by taking away his freedoms, God had opened up huge opportunities.
b. Daniel who would have only ruled over a small nation will rise to rule over the great Babylonian empire ... all because he accepted the loss of freedoms and exercised instead his faith.
6. It is not the loss of freedom that is hurting this country ... in fact, we are too obsessed with "freedom" ... we would do better to become obsessed with faith!
a. In our "freedom" crazed society everyone is claiming their "rights" are violated!
b. What about the Christian? Are we screaming about our "rights" being violated?
(1. "I don't want a service to go more than 1 hour!"
(2. "It's my choice whether to give to God or not."
(3. "No preacher is going to tell me what to do."
(4. "I don't have to serve..."
c. Freedom obsession is killing our country...what we need is more focus
on FAITH! Daniel discovered that there is something more important than just
freedom, maybe we can too!
III. LIVING - BREATHING GODLINESS! 1:17-21
A. Requirement 1:18
1. Performance is required of a Christian!
a. The day comes when Daniel and his friends must face the test of the world!
b. Christianity in not a private thing! It is meant to be very public!
2. God does not ask us to be very spiritual in front of other Christians and let the world keep guessing where we stand in spiritual things!
3. At some point in time we must all stand before the "NEBUCHADNEZZARS" of this world!
a. Jesus said we are not to be a "light put under a bushel basket"!
b. The world has the right to test us ... to see if we are real, and better than the world!
c. If the world tested Christianity today based on the lifestyle of Christians, would they find us better, the same, or worse?
4. The growing rift between what Christians believe and what they practice
does not honor God! Paul Harvey said, "If you don't live it,
you don't believe it!" How right he is!
B. Recognition! 1:19-21
1. Daniel and his friends pass with flying colors!
a. The difference between them and the other worldly wise men was so obvious as to be silly!
b. There was immediate recognition by the King of Babylon over the difference between these believers and unbelievers! Is this still the case today?
2. The king put them into service ... he knew these were men you could count on! Is this the attitude of the world toward Christians today?
a. It is up to us!
b. To be "sincere" requires real fruit that is observable!
ILLUS: If you look up the word "SINCERE" in the dictionary you
will find that it comes from 2 Latin words: "SINE" and "CERE" which means
literally, "WITHOUT WAX". Years ago, a potter would often put his seal or stamp
upon a completed vessel with the words, "SINE CERE". This meant that to his
knowledge there was no flaw in that work. If a potter did crack a vessel, he
would carefully patch that flawed vessel or bowl by putting wax in the crack to
seal it, then he would glaze it over, but in this case it did not merit the
stamp "SINE CERE"! This is still what God and the world is looking for, are you
3. In every way a man can be tested, Daniel and his friends excelled above the standards of the world! ... in fact, Nebuchadnezzar found them "10 times better" than the world! Is this true with us?
4. You will notice that the last verse simply states that "Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus".
a. That was 66 years later than the events of this chapter!
b. For Daniel, giving up freedoms for over 66 years did no dissuade him from serving with all his heart both God and country, even a country that was not a believing one!
c. for his entire life, he gave up freedoms most of us would have complained about or perhaps we would have become bitter over the losses...but Daniel's faith never failed, it was more important to him than his freedoms. How about us?
5. The worse freedom to lose is not the freedoms we are used to cherishing: It would be the freedom to serve God and others! This is a freedom that can't be taken away, it can only be given away by us! If Daniel could cherish his faith above his freedoms, so can we!
a. Instead of oppression ... Daniel found opportunity!
b. Instead of captivity ... Daniel found compassion!
c. Instead of restrictions ... Daniel found righteousness!
d. Instead of slavery ... Daniel found servanthood!
CONCLUSION: Daniel lost his crown, his country, even his cash...yet he gained so much more in faith than he lost in freedoms! So can you! Faith in God can overcome any loss of freedom, those losses can be gains as we develop a servant's heart and trust God!