A Heartfelt Purpose 1/11/98

Daniel 1:1-8
Page 1297 Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ is depicted as our ideal for inspiration. We are challenged to always be “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

Jesus had a rough and challenging road in life. Perhaps that is why you have found you can relate to Him and more importantly why He can relate to you.

A family with young children was walking a mountain path together. It was a bit challenging to the children. One of them exclaimed, “This is not a path at all. It is all rocky and bumpy. The older child enjoying the challenge replied, “Sure, the bumps are what you climb on.”

Having observed many lives and read many biographies I have never known of a person who achieved who didn’t have a bumpy path in all of life. Success resulted from learning to climb on the bumps.

We learn and grow by doing so. In a “Peanuts” cartoon, my favorite theologian, Charlie Brown is complaining about his team always losing. Trying to console him Lucy says, “Remember, Charlie Brown, you learn more from your defeats than you do from your victories.”

Charlie replies, “That makes me the smartest man in the world.” You may feel you are Charlie’s chief competition for “world’s smartest.” Remember, bumps are what you climb on. While doing so always keep your eyes on Jesus Who climbed His bumps.

Jesus Christ, Who masterfully climbed on the bumps in his path said, “Come out from among them and be separated…”

God has always looked for His separated band that He might use and bless. In the Old Testament is a classic example of some youth who qualified without qualification.

Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had conquered Jerusalem and carried a number of the choicest youth back to Babylon. Note these characteristics:

AGE: “young” (Vs. 4a) It was king David who said, “I have been young, and am now old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken” (Psalm 37: 25).

APPEARANCE: “in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking”

1. “gifted in all wisdom”
2. “possessing knowledge”
3. “quick to understand”

AMENITIES: “who had the ability to serve in the king’s palace”

Daniel had taken a vow regarding his diet and total abstinence from drugs. The drug in question was alcohol. The king’s instruction was a command that would have violated Daniel’s convictions.

Here was an appeal to popularity, prestige, prominence, and power. In this story we can see —

A. Youth. What a fantastic time of life! Ambition is high and experience is low, BUT often that ambition drives one to excessive experiences.

This has left many youths as frustrated as a bird looking for a worm in AstroTurf.

As mixed up as a termite in a yo-yo.

As anxious as a sheep that is allergic to wool.

So nervous they could thread a sewing machine that is running.

It is a challenging time when hormones kick in. Internal stress and external strife often result. It is critically important that young people understand what is happening within them. Be patient with yourself and by all means don’t let your body chemistry separate you from your parents. Let reason take charge of your feelings.

B. Captivity. The greatest slavery the world has ever known is the slavery of a modern American teenager to the opinion of other teens. Rarely does Satan use physical violence to persecute us in America today. He does it psychologically by assaulting our ego, and our feelings. Satan doesn’t say, “I will pull off your nose if you share your faith with a best friend.” Or, “I will rip out your liver if you take a stand in this setting.”

He does impress us with: “You won’t have a friend left if you don’t go along with the gang.” Or, “Folks will think you are weird if you don’t do what they are doing.”

C. Flattery. “Hey, baby I love you!” “I need you.”

D. Isolation. Away from home. Teenage mobility today.

E. Futility. Nothing for which to live, homeland destroyed.

F. Loneliness. Ann Frank: “Youth is the loneliest time of life.”

Sometimes it seems no one wants to have anything to do with us. The dating period of life is a testing one. Excuses are often created for not wanting to accept an invitation to date. Such as:

“I’d love to go out with you, but I’m attending the opening of my garage door.”

“I’d love to go out with you, but I need to spend more time with my blender.”

“I’d love to go out with you, but it’s my night to pet the goldfish.”

“I’d love to go out with you, but I need to work on my cottage cheese sculpture.”

“I’d love to go out with you, but I promised to help my friend fold road maps.”

Maya Angelou, in her book, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, describes her life as a lonely black child being shuffled back and forth among several families, and concludes: “Of all the needs a lonely child has, the one that must be satisfied if there is going to be hope of wholeness is the overshaking need for an unshakable God.”

Don’t let loneliness drive you to compromise.

These same things lead many people to opt for drugs in an attempt to synthetically seek to meet their needs.

As a result, between 1960 and 1980:
The delinquency rate has doubled.
The birthrate for unwed mothers is up 130 percent.
Suicide is up 130 percent.
Murder is up 232 percent.

A recent report in USA TODAY showed:

“Almost half of the teen drug abusers got involved before age 12. Cocaine, the drug of the middle-class kids, has risen in use from 7% in ’84, to 63% today.
61% of abusers use alcohol first; 30% used pot.
65% used drugs a year before their parents suspected it.
70% were introduced to drugs by a friend.
34% used drugs for the first time at home.”

WHY are youth doing this? The same appeal is being made to them as made to Daniel: captivity, flattery, isolation, futility, and loneliness.

A. Daniel Purposed Not to Defile Himself. The word “defile” meant “to pollute.”

This had to be a difficult and challenging series of bumps for Daniel. You too may be climbing a seemingly unsurmountable series of bumps. Always remember: “Never doubt in the darkness, what God has told you in the light.” Daniel didn’t.

At times we must by faith cling to the truth of these couplets:
“Yesterday God helped me, Today He’ll do the same.
How long will this continue? Forever — praise His name.”

Chris Craft was asked: “When is the best time to make a decision?”

Underscore in verse 8 the big little word “himself.” Personal resolve is part of the solution. There are some decisions you don’t have to make but once. The decision not to “defile” himself.

Make a decision now not to pollute yourself:
1. With drugs.
2. Morally. Pregnant teens: “I don’t know why I did it.”

B. Daniel Prayed – Daniel 6:10, “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.”

C. Daniel Proceeded to Trust The Consequences to God. He knew what we must never forget. God won’t keep us from trouble, but He will keep us while in trouble. There are circumstances in life that may hurt us but they can’t harm us.

God will never require anything of us that He will not enable. Otherwise He would just be mocking our weaknesses. That He doesn’t do.

A. He Gained A Healthy Body

B. He Laid a Good Foundation for Adulthood. Be kind to your tomorrow self.

C. He Was Admired By Man and Blessed by God.