Bold Faith In A Brave New World

Daniel And His Friends Model How To Have Faith In Hard Times.

Tim Lundy
Feb 23, 2020    42m
Do you know how to live out your faith when you are in an environment that may be hostile to it? In this message of strength and courage, we find Daniel and his friend modeling how to live out your faith in hard times. Video recorded at Los Gatos, California.

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This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Tim Lundy: 00:00 This morning we have the opportunity to start a new series, and in it where we're looking at a character in human history, that made a difference over the course of his lifetime. He actually made a difference in a couple of different cultures, regime changes, man of incredible influence for his time. We know him as Daniel, and often think of them as the stories from childhood as Daniel.

Tim Lundy: 00:26 And yet, there's so much in it that it speaks to, how do you live out in a way as a person of faith in a culture around you that seems to be just totally opposite of everything you believe. That's what Daniel found himself in, and that's what we often find ourselves in. Sometimes it feels that way, it feels like our culture's changing that much more. That's why I think it's always great to go back at history, we get real scared in our times, because it's the first time we've lived through it. And if you look back at history, you realize, wait, people have been through things before. You've got to go back to 793 AD, 793 AD was the age of the Vikings. It's when, in Britain, the first attack happened at a monastery at Lindisfarne. And the Vikings came and they attacked, and they were pretty aggressive people, more advanced than they're given credit for, but pretty aggressive and especially aggressive against Christianity. And for 200 years, it was an onslaught of attacks from Ireland all the way down to the Mediterranean.

Tim Lundy: 01:27 A people group that came in aggressively would go into a monastery, would go into even churches, and kill. the pries. They had a different belief system, their whole belief system was a different trinity than we would serve, they served a trinity of Thor and Odin and Frey. And the church, especially in Britain in that part of Europe, was terrified. In fact, the prayer of the monks in the monastery starting in 793, they would often end their prayer with this line, "From the fury of the Northmen, oh Lord, deliver us." It felt like they were under attack and assault, because they were.

Tim Lundy: 02:09 And yet, a remarkable thing happened over that time period, it wasn't quick, it was several hundred years. The Vikings went from people that attacked Christianity, to a culture that became Christian. In fact, the whole Scandinavian world became a bedrock of Christianity. You go, how did that happen? Well, part of it was a mindset shift, of instead of just praying for protection from them, suddenly the shift in mindset of wait, how do we share the truth with them? How do we introduce them to the same life-changing truth and Savior that we've experienced?

Tim Lundy: 02:55 And so you had several missionaries who, despite the threat to their lives said, yeah, I'll go reach them, you had some conversions that took place at high places, but you know, as historians trace it, do you know the number one thing that changed the whole Viking culture from being this aggressive culture that worshiped the gods of Thor and Odin, to a culture that became Christian? To the point that post the reformation, Scandinavia was known for Lutheranism, in fact, it's known in the world today from it. What changed it? You know, the number one thing that changed it? Business. As Christian started doing business with those from that part of the world, and in those interactions, as they traded goods together, they use that as a bridge to start sharing their faith, to start sharing who Jesus is, and what he had done. Literally a whole aggressive culture was changed person by person.

Tim Lundy: 04:00 I think it's good for us to look back in history, because sometimes we see the culture changing all around us, and especially this season like this, election season, it feels like it's changing every day. And people are saying things, and they're going to do this and that, and we get scared. And then people come out aggressively, some very aggressive, against our faith and systems of belief. And in it, we can kind of pull back, and be afraid, and wonder what is going on. And I think that's why it's so important because we, as a church, we have a vision here in the Bay area that we don't want to be a church that's just praying from protection from the world. We want to be a church that's introducing our culture, and our friends, and our coworkers to Jesus. Because we think person by person, he not only changes lives, he changes whole cultures.

Tim Lundy: 04:50 One of the best examples of how to do this well, because it's hard, it's hard to find that balance of how to do it, is the man Daniel. If you've got your Bibles, and you're going to need a Bible, if you don't have one, grab the blue one, I'm going to use the blue one in the room. We're going to read through it there, and you can turn to page 875 in the blue one, but turn to Daniel 1, if you've got your own Bible, 875. And we look at this young man, Daniel. And we look at somebody who literally overnight finds himself in a different world, different culture, different place, different belief, system, everything about it is different.

Tim Lundy: 05:27 Now, as you're turning there, let me give you a little background to the book itself. If you look here on the map, this is the age when this part of the world, these world empire started to arise. And so the Assyrian empire arose first, and the Assyrian empire became very dominant during this time period. The Assyrian empire went in and destroyed the top half of the people of God, the Hebrews, the nation of Israel, and all that was left was a little nation of Judah, Jerusalem and Judah was there. The Assyrians were overthrown by the Babylonian empire, and so in our reading and Daniel, all this area of pink that you see here, this is when Babylon ruled this part of the world. And it started a guy named Nabopolassar, but it was his son Nebuchadnezzar, who was the one that had a great vision for a world empire.

Tim Lundy: 06:21 And so around 605 BC Nebuchadnezzar was on a campaign, and he was really fighting against Egypt, Egypt was the other kingdom they really needed to subdue. And in 605, spring of that year, at the battle of Carchemish, Babylon became the dominant force as they defeated the forces of Egypt. On the way back, he stopped here and destroyed the remaining part of the people of Israel, the nation of Judah. They sacked Jerusalem, and they took it into captivity many of them, especially some of the young Royal court officials, their family, and some of the young men with it.

Tim Lundy: 07:03 And so as we begin the Book of Daniel, that's what's going on here in 605, where Daniel is a part of this group that was in Jerusalem, and they've been taken back all the way to Babylon, and here in the capital city where Nebuchadnezzar was the King.

Tim Lundy: 07:22 So let's read with this, and I want to give you this context, because what we're reading is not just biblical stories, it's human history. In fact, everything I told you, you can go back to the history books, you can see it, and we can chart it according to that. And Daniel gives us several markers in the books, that allow us to chart it with human history. Read with me, starting in verse 1, "In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah." So he was the king that was over Judah, he was an evil King, he was not obedient. "Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it." Now notice here in verse 2, "And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god." This is kind of like the last insult that you could do, if you went into a land and you not only destroyed the land, you went into their temple and you took all the instruments of their temple, the vessels of the temple, and you took it back to your temple and your god. It was his way of saying, my god is greater than your god, my god wins, your god just lost. And if you were living at that time it would be alarming to you.

Tim Lundy: 08:41 Here's the first point though, that I want you to see. Because Daniel point's it out, God's in control, no matter what happens. God's in control, no matter what happens. Look how he put it there in verse 2, look how he said it there, "And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand." He doesn't say in this, oh man, Nebuchadnezzar was so strong he did this, Nebuchadnezzar is the greatest King he did this, Nebuchadnezzar' god did this. Daniel's saying out of the gate, no, actually God was still in control. The word he uses for Lord there is actually, Adonai, it means sovereign, creator, the one in control. So Daniel recognized, even though this impacts his people, his life, his time, that God was doing this. Now why would God do this? Well, he'd been warning Israel for hundreds of years.

Tim Lundy: 09:32 In fact, if you go all the way back to Deuteronomy 28, as Moses is talking to them, and they're about to go into land. He says, if you're not obedient to God, if you don't keep his covenant, if you don't keep the law, that he's going to allow conquers to come in and take you to their land. And God has been patient, and patient, patient, and finally, the time has come that God is keeping his word, he's still in control.

Tim Lundy: 09:59 Now here's second the thing you need to recognize with this though, God allows hard times in order to accomplish his plan. In order to be true to his word, he allows hard times in our life, he allows hard times in Daniel's life. Daniel didn't do anything wrong, Daniel is actually faithful to God, but he's caught up in this. Read with me starting in verse 3, as we continue on with it, "Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans." He says, get some of their brightest and best, bring them back, and I want to make them our own, I want them to become Chaldeans.

Tim Lundy: 10:50 "The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, (kind of three years at the university there), and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king." There'll be a final exam, does this guy measure up. "Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego." So, look at this, here's Daniel and his friends, godly young men, they're doing the right thing. But because God's executing his plan, they have to go through a really hard time.

Tim Lundy: 11:40 And then just stopped for a minute, because when you think about these young men, Daniel's probably about 14 or 15 years old at this point. I don't know about you, when you were 14 or 15, I don't know how I would've handled it, probably not very well. I mean, you're stripped from your family, you don't see them anymore, they're gone. You're stripped from your home, you're taking from your people group, your way of life. You're stripped from your faith community, there's no more temple, they've ransacked the temple, they've destroyed your city. They grabbed you and your friends, and you're taken, and suddenly just overnight, you're immersed in this new culture, new way, new people. And by the way, if you study Babylon in this time, I mean, everything they believed was antithetical to everything that Daniel had been taught his whole life. I mean, just everything about it the whole system, very occult, a lot of divination, they worshipped spirits, and in that, there was a lot sexually that was very different in it. I mean he's suddenly immersed, as a 15 year old, in a different culture, in a different world.

Tim Lundy: 12:56 And they're literally trying to strip their identity from them, notice they changed all their names. If you go down the line, each of these young men's names, it's interesting with it. Daniel, whose name means God is my judge. That one day I'll stand before God, he's the one who will judge my life. They change it to Belteshazzar, which means Bael is my God. They literally look at them and go, no, no, no, you're not going to have Yahweh as you're not going to have [inaudible] as your God, Bael is your God now because Bael won this fight. They take the young man, Hananiah, whose name means Yahweh's been gracious to me, he becomes Shadrach, which means I am afraid of Aku, one of their gods. Mishael, whose name means there's no one like our God, they changed to Meshach, which means I am scared before Aku, I'm humbled before him. They take as Azariah, whose name meant Yahweh has helped us, and they name him Abednego, you're a servant of Nego. Do you feel how much they're grabbing these guys and they're going, your old life has gone, you don't believe that way, you don't even identify that way anymore, that's not you. It's interesting, back in the 1970s in Albania, the Albanian government, in an effort to wipe out religion, went through and actually changed the names of people just like this. If you'd had a biblical name at all, they changed their name, because they didn't want people to research ever where their name came from, just trying to wipe out any sense of what you believe. Daniel finds himself in the middle of this, the question is, how do you respond?

Tim Lundy: 14:47 Here's what I'd say in the third point with it, when all of life gets stripped away, you will find out who you are and what you really believe. And when all of it gets taken away, that's when you find out who you are, and that's when you find out what you really believe. Do you believe this stuff or not. Do you stand for it or not? You know, Mike Tyson, I like boxing. Mike Tyson had that saying that he would always say, there's nobody like Iron Mike in the ring. And he would say, "Everybody has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth." Everybody knows, they all tell you what they're going to do, until they get punched in the mouth. Deontay Wilder found that out last night, the hard way, everybody knows.

Tim Lundy: 15:36 And let's say the same is true, there's a lot of people that will tell you, oh man, this is what I believe, this is what I stand for, this is who I am. Yeah, but what happens when life punches you in the mouth? What happens when what you were holding onto is stripped away? What happens when the relationship you invested in is suddenly over? Or that the business that you were holding on to, and you were so faithful to, the startup that was so clear and it was going to happen, and it doesn't happen? I mean, any number of things that we face.

Tim Lundy: 16:11 And when you find yourself in a culture that they're going that direction, and they look at you and they go, hey, we're all going this way. I mean, as look at it, I mean, it would have been really easy as a 15 year old for Daniel and his buddies to look at each other and go, hey, maybe God did leave, maybe this is life now. I mean, we were faithful, we did all the right things, look where we are now, look what happened with it. Why stick our necks out? Why stand up now? Why be different? This is life in the world today, and we probably should just get on with it, if we're going to ever get ahead. It would've been easy to make that decision, but you don't see that in Daniel. Daniel, and all these guys in a unique way, they go, okay, this is where we are. Why does God have us here? And what's he calling us to do? And what do we really believe?

Tim Lundy: 17:15 In fact, as you look at this passage, kind of five things jumped out at me, of difference-makers in his life, of how he could stand like this, and things that I want to follow their example in. Let me be real clear, because when you teach through a book like Daniel, there's these unbelievable miracles that God does. And sometimes we can teach through a book like that and we go, okay, if I do that, then God's going to do this. That's not what the book is teaching, God gives us no guarantees of miracles. That it's kind of like a vending machine, if I put in enough faith, I punch out my miracle, and it comes out at the bottom.

Tim Lundy: 17:51 What God does in Daniel's circumstances is very exceptional, he was doing something exceptional in that time. And so I don't want to look at that and go, oh, God has to work in that way, it was very unique in human history. But what Daniel does in his circumstance is a great example, no matter what God does. He's a great character, that I go, okay, I can learn from that. I'm not facing exactly what he is, but I can learn from his life. So what do we see from Daniel? Let me give you five things with it.

Tim Lundy: 18:22 First thing that we see, parents who invested in him spiritually. Now you won't find them in the book anywhere, no passage where you go, oh, Daniel's parents. And yet, as you look at this, I mean, if you look at these four young men, they have very God Biblical names that were given to them, belief names. They have foundation of faith that they understand God's law, we're going to see Daniel make some decisions in his life based on what he knew scripture had said. They had practices in their life as, as young men of prayer, of young men who look to God in it. Guys, that doesn't just happen, that there was a group of them. It's interesting to me is Daniel and his friends, and I think it's one of the things, one of the reasons they were able to stay strong. And I'd encourage young people in this, having friends who believe the same as you, it's amazing the strength that gives you, no matter what circumstances you face. But parents, who for the short period of time that they had them, they invested in them.

Tim Lundy: 19:28 As I, you know, read through these stories, having four sons who were teenagers, the thought that literally overnight, one of my boys is taken away, different country, different culture, and I never see him again. Can you imagine the sadness of that, can you imagine the fear as a parent, that you go, oh man, is he going to hold on? Is he going to live out what was invested in him? And it hits me that, maybe not as dramatically as Daniel's parents, but for all of us as parents, the goal for all of us is one day we are sending them out. We're sending them out to colleges and universities. We're sending them out into the world. We're sending them out into workplace. We're sending them out into a world that we actually didn't grow up in. They're facing things that we didn't see in that, and the importance of in the short period of time that we have them, investing well, of calling them to faith in God, and calling them to own it themselves at a young age, that they own their faith.

Tim Lundy: 20:37 You know, as I think about that example, the short period of time. There's a lighthouse, the bell rock lighthouse off the coast of Scotland. And if you look at it, you can kind of see just this little bit of rock that's here, there's less than an acre of rock that'll appear. And the interesting thing about this, this lighthouse was built in 1811, 20 hours of the day, the lighthouse looks like this. And the next picture, you can see it here, where it's literally water, there's only four hours a day that there's any land around it at all. And so many ships were being destroyed on it, there was a group that they said, it'd be great to have a lighthouse there, but it's almost impossible to build one on that little piece of rock, and you'd only have four hours a day to even work. There's a guy named Robert Stevenson, and a group of 65 men, who said we can do it. And then they came up with a plan where literally they'd have to, they built a structure just to stay out there, and then for four hours a day, they could go, especially in the early parts when they were building it, it's the only time they had to work on it. Built it in 1811, it still stands today, it's still warns ships today. Instead of looking at it and going, oh, that's not enough time, we can't do it, that's too hard. They go, yeah, we can do that, we'll take what's given us, and build what we can.

Tim Lundy: 22:03 And I think that's the same challenge for every parent today, we don't get our kids long, and with all the activity and everything else, you've got that much less time with them. Are we intentional with what we have? Are we building in their life, so that we can build young women and young men of character, that are going to go out into a world, and they're going to face a world that we never faced in it. But we can send them out with a foundation, that doesn't mean they won't reject it. There's been many a great kid who's been very invested in, who made choices to walk away, that's their choice in it. I just want to make sure that they're actually walking away from something that was invested. If they're choosing to walk away from it, I hope that what I invested in their life haunts them for a lifetime. But even more importantly, I hope that God would take our efforts as parents and give them a foundation for a lifetime, for the short period of time we have them.

Tim Lundy: 23:04 Look at the second thing of Daniel's life that you see, he has a personal resolve, a personal resolve to be faithful to the best of his ability. Read with me in verse 8, "But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself." So they brought him in, they're in a three-year study program, and in that, they have all the best foods that the King would offer. Now the problem with this, is that food, especially the meat that would be offered, all of it had been already sacrificed to idols, that that was just a given within the King's household. And so Daniel looks at it and he is, to the best of his ability, trying to obey the law that God had given to the people of Israel for that time. And for that people, in that time period, they were not to eat meat that had been sacrificed idols, there were certain meats they were not allowed to eat. The wine that was offered, the strong drink in it, we'll see later in the book, Daniel drank wine. So it wasn't just that he was total teetotaler at it, but he makes a choice of this, that he can't control everything else, but he could control his diet.

Tim Lundy: 24:25 And this is an interesting point to me, because you look at it here, Daniel can't go to temple anymore, he can't offer sacrifices, he can't practice all the other things of his faith, that's not an option for him at all, but this one thing he can do. He looks at it and he goes, okay, I can't control all that, but I can control my body, I can control what goes in it. And so he makes a personal choice, I'm not going to defile myself that way, it's incredible resolve here. And I love the example he gives to us, because here's the reality, and I'd say this to young people. There's a lot of things, you're stepping into a culture where you can't control everything around, you can't control what everybody else is doing, you can't control everybody else's belief system. But if we had young men and women who made it a point in their life that they go, even if you went down to what Daniel said, hey, I'm going to control this body, I'm going to control what I do. I'm going to be faithful to what I do, both in what goes into my body, what I do with my body. And you just stood on that resolve to begin with, you'd be amazed at the power of that. It doesn't take many people, it really doesn't. It doesn't take many people in a group, that if somebody just has some resolve. And even people that disagree with you, they may look at you and go, oh, you're old fashioned and all that. There's a strength that comes when you've just made a personal commitment that you go, okay, man, I'm not trying to change all your world, I'm just standing on what I know is true for me, before God, in what he's called me to do.

Tim Lundy: 26:14 We need that kind of resolve today, because the culture is changing all the time, we need young people like that. And when you make that kind of commitment, you go, this is my commitment for a lifetime, then you don't have to keep remaking the commitment. Every time you get into a new circumstances, and when you go off to college, you're a new party, you're in new place, you don't have to keep over and over again, oh, am I going to do that or not? No, you go, no, I've already resolved this, I've already drawn my lines, I know where I stand, I know where I stand before God. Doesn't mean that it's not hard in, it doesn't mean that you don't struggle, but it gives you a strength in life before God. And it gives you the power to be able to speak in other people's lives, when they start making those decisions and it's not working, you know who they'll turn to? You. You'd be amazed, the same people that makes fun of you for making those stands, are the ones that call you when life's not working, Because they need somebody to talk to that has some commitments like that in life. And the power that you go ahead and go, you know, this is for a lifetime, this is who I am, this is my identity. You can change my name, I'm still Daniel, I'm still the guy that one day I'm going to stand before God, and he exams my life, and so that's how I'm going to live.

Tim Lundy: 27:27 There was a guy named Gary MacPherson, years ago he did a study, he was trying to figure out with children, ones that had kind of resolve and commitment in that. So they chose as a group, as a case group, 157 children who are taking up an instrument to begin playing it. And they wanted to see, was there something unique about the ones that would really excel? So they tracked them over a long period of time, and out of that group, some became great musicians, some would go on with that. And so they tried to track, was it based on IQ, was it based on musical skill in the family, or any other thing? Here was the one determining factor they said, more than anything else, the day the child picked up the instrument for the first time, the first interview they had with them, they asked them this question, how long do you plan on playing this instrument? And invariably, the kids that say, well, I'll do it for a little while, never tracked very long in it. The ones who would say I'll do it for a few years, I'm going do it while I'm in school with this, some, a little better. Almost to the person, the child that would look at him and say, well, I'm a musician now, I'm going to play this for the rest of my life, of course I'm going to play it. And as they looked at it and they'd go, almost invariably, those were the ones, that they had just made a choice, this is who I am, this is what I do.

Tim Lundy: 28:56 That's part of what you see in Daniel here, this kind of resolve that we're talking about. It doesn't matter that I'm in Babylon or in Jerusalem, it doesn't matter how world's changed around me, it doesn't matter what everybody else is doing. Man, this is who I am, I follow God. And to the best of my ability, I can't change everything else, I can't make everybody else do what I want to do, but over us we've made this choice before God, to have that kind of personal resolve.

Tim Lundy: 29:21 Now notice how he does it though, and I think this is important factor, he does it with a positive attitude and respect for those in authority. He does it with a positive attitude, respect. Look at it in verse 9 with it, "And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” The guy comes to him and he says, Hey, if you don't eat what everybody else eats and then you fall behind, I get in trouble with it. Notice Daniel's response to him, "Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food."

Tim Lundy: 30:34 Now notice how he goes about this, he doesn't go, hey, I've got personal resolve, so I'm going on a protest strike, and all my friends are too. And you people are so bad, you're eating all the wrong stuff, those gods you're worshiping. He doesn't do that, he's not a jerk about it. Notice it already said he had found favor in the steward's site, the guy liked him already. Guys, it would be amazing, you'd be amazed, if we, as Christians, just started out trying to be a little more likable. Seriously, we'd just reduce the jerk factor a little bit. You don't have to go out, that you're immediately, like, you're all wrong, we're all right, this is why we believe, and just be a jerk about it. Here's how he starts it, he goes to him and he says, hey, look, I can't do this. And the guy goes, yeah, you're going to get me In trouble. We don't do this in this company, HR is going to report me. And he goes, do this, why don't you test us? I believe what my God's doing, test us, let's do a 10 day run at this and see if it's any better. You see how he's approaching this, by the way, it's not antagonistic, it's not I'm trying to fight you on this. But I really believe what I'm standing on, I believe what God's going to deliver in it, and so for 10 days he eats vegetables.

Tim Lundy: 31:59 Now I don't know about the whole diet, people have built whole diets off of this, by the way. I don't know about any of that, you know, remember God's doing exceptional stuff here. So I don't know that, all I know is Daniel shows me, hey, maybe I find myself in a context where everything around me, maybe I'm working in a company where everybody around me, man, the whole belief system of the company seems like it's against everything I stand for. I don't give up my stance, but there's a way of approaching it. And instead of starting with antagonism, I start with, hey, look, I want to respect you, you're in charge. I want to start on a positive front, I want to be likable to the best of my ability. Now they may not, Jesus said, they'll hate you because they hate me. Some people will hate you no matter how likable you are, don't have illusions about that. But do this, make sure they're hating you because of Jesus, not because of you. Okay? That's the part where I have to check, and I'm like, wait, I don't think it's the Jesus thing, I think I'm just being a jerk. And then look at Daniel's example in that.

Tim Lundy: 33:10 Look at the fourth thing we see, preparation to be the best of his generation. Preparation to be the best of his generation. Look at it, in verse 16, "So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom." They find themselves in a culture that was very into enchantment, divination, the spiritual world, the occult, and that's what they're called to, they're called the study in all that. No, they didn't believe any all that, but notice they were the best of their generation, they were the best of the group. They didn't just go, well, we're Christians and that's enough. They go, no, we've got to be smarter than the rest of them. We've got to not only understand it, we've got to understand how it's false with it. And you're going to see in the next chapter, how God uses this in the future with it, how Daniel is able to show the truth with it. But for this season of his life, for these three years, man, he was the best, he studied harder.

Tim Lundy: 34:47 And I would say that again to us as Christians, and I say to young people, especially, man, as you go into school, as you go to university, as you go into a job, as you go into a different field, man, be the best. To the best of your ability, use all of it, study harder. We need the best of scientists who are Christians. We need the best of politicians who are Christians. We need the best of business leaders, and entrepreneurs, and engineers, and artists, and doctors, and lawyers. We don't need to get scared and get in our Holy huddle, and we just hold onto what we believe, and maybe the big, bad world to go away.

Tim Lundy: 35:26 That's not Daniel's example, Daniel found himself in the middle of the big, bad world. And guys, it was a belief system that was a lot different than what we're facing today, I mean, it was pretty harsh in ways, and pretty scary, but you never see him scared to you. He goes, no, this is where God placed me. And if this is where God placed us, we're going to be the best of it. And you do know why? Because as we do this, it gives us an opportunity to show that our God is actually the best, to show who we're following, and who's really in charge.

Tim Lundy: 36:02 The final thing you see is perseverance. A long obedience over his lifetime, a long obedience. Look at verse 21, "And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus." Now, again, I love this, the book gives us a lot of historical markers. That's over 70 years later, guys. It's funny, anytime you say, oh, you're teaching on Daniel, a lot of times old people will go, oh, that's a good book for young people. Oh, that's such a good book, but the young people, they need to hear Daniel. And I always say, no, it's actually a really good book for old people, because the Bible is full of people who start well, but there's not a lot of them that really end well. Especially in the Old Testament, Daniel was one of the few, he persevered over the long haul. He faces a lot of changes, a lot of challenges, and we're seeing them over the next several weeks, we'll walk through that lifetime. And as it does, in that, he perseveres.

Tim Lundy: 37:08 What about you? What about where God's placed you? What's God calling you to do? Some of you here today, maybe you've walked with Jesus for a long number of years, but you're in a new season where some things have been stripped away, and you've got to decide, are you going to have resolve? Some of you have been in a long season of obedience, maybe a long season of singleness that you weren't planning on, a long season of illness, a long season of financial struggle. You got to decide, do I really trust him and believe him? Some of you. you're in that early season like Daniel was, those young years. And you got a lot of things coming at you trying to tell you, oh, you don't have to really believe that. Come on, you can do this. You've got to decide, am I person of resolve?

Tim Lundy: 38:12 Daniel showed a long obedience over a lifetime, and in it, God did exceptional things. That's one of the reasons we study a story. If you look through history, there's a lot of people that their obedience, we don't know, because when they took their stand, it really cost them something. I think of a young man named JW Tucker, who back in 1964, he, along with 50 people that he was teaching and led to Christ were thrown into the Bomokande River by Congolese rebels. And they were thrown in because it was filled with alligators that immediately killed them, ripped them apart. Tucker knew the risk when he went into the Congo. In fact, a lot of people warned him, they said, you can't go there, it's too dangerous there. And so he kept praying about it, he kept asking, God, God, are you sure? Is this what you're calling me to do? Is this what you've called me to step into? And his friend Morris Plotts finally, as they were praying together, he looked at him and he said, JW, if you go in, you'll never come out. It was prophetic. And he looked him in the eye, and with a smile, he said, Morris, here's all I know, God didn't tell me whether I would come out, but he did tell me to go in, and so I've got to obey. It's a hard obedience, it's a hard resolve.

Tim Lundy: 39:56 And the reason I say that, because we see how God works in these miraculous ways with Daniel, but in a lot of lives, the Christian story doesn't end with, oh, and they lived happily ever after. You know how it does end though? They lived happily forever after. And that's a big difference, because I don't know what's going to happen in our culture around us, but I do know who our God is, and I know what he's called us to. and I know he's in control, and I know he asked us to have personal resolve, to trust him. And I know he's going to take different ones of us through, sometimes, really hard times. Trust him, step out by faith, be that man and woman in your neighborhood, in your business, in your family, that people look to and maybe they don't even agree with, but it's hard to argue with a life that is built upon God's truth, and to the best of your ability, you stay faithful to it, and watch him work in it.

Tim Lundy: 41:04 Let's pray. Father, I do pray for each person here, there's different journeys, different things that you've called them two different ways that they're having to stand for you. Lord, I pray for young people who hear this message, I pray that you'd raise up a generation like Daniel and his friends. I pray that they would have a resolve from a young age, that no matter where they find themselves, they'll stand for you to the best of their ability, they'll be obedient with the life that you've given them. Lord, I pray for parents in this room like me, that we recognize we have such a precious privilege to be able to invest in these lives, may we do it well in the time that we have. Lord, I pray for older people who hear this, I pray for perseverance to finish well, to be a generation of examples that younger people can look to. And Lord, for all of us as a church, we want to see people and friends all around us who don't know you, realize how you change lives, so could we live this out in the way that we've seen modeled here? And we pray this in Christ' name. Amen.

Recorded in Los Gatos, California.
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Venture Christian Church
16845 Hicks Road
Los Gatos, California 95032