Series on Daniel, i Context, C Bravery, Text: 1:8-16,Title: Heeding God's Command.

Introduction

The words of the children's song go this way, "Standing by a purpose true; heeding God's command: Honor them the faithful few, all hail to Daniel's band. Dare to be a Daniel, dare to stand alone, dare to have a purpose firm, dare top make it known." As promised in our last message we now see Daniel and his friends responding to the temptations and trials of their new environment in Babylon. The pressure was on them to become Babylonians, but they remained faithful to the true and living God. The way they did this as the song says was by bravery. Bravery is a word not mentioned often enough by Christians. It takes real bravery to do the right thing. Many years ago I read a little booklet by C. T. Studd called, “The Chocolate Soldier.” He's the one who melts in the heat of battle, but as Christians we should dare to be a Daniel, dare to stand alone, dare to have a purpose firm, dare to make it known. Let us look at Daniel's response today in our text, and see three things; it was heartfelt, humble and hopeful.


I Heartfelt

Daniel had a purpose and that purpose was as deep and strong as anything in life, as we read in verses 8 and 9, But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel. He purposed in his heart not to defile himself, that is, to disobey God by eating the king's fancy food. it was a promise, a covenant, a sacred vow to the Lord which came not from external pressures but from inside of Daniel. He didn’t say that he wouldn’t eat of the king's food because others would see him or condemn him for doing it. He wanted to please God above all else. Remember what God said about being faithful in little things. It wasn't so much the diet as the determination that made the difference that affected the whole rest of Daniel's life. When we get into debates over what is right or wrong I am reminded of a story about the pastor of Moody Memorial Church in Chicago, the renowned Dr. Harry Ironsides. He brought a shirt he had worn to his wife and asked her if she thought it was all right to wear again before being laundered. She said in her typically pragmatic way, Harry, if it's doubtful it's dirty. the point is that we are not making these decisions primarily because of what others think, but because we want to please Jesus. Daniel made a heartfelt decision to please God. Often Christians decide that they want to witness for the Lord but they want it to be a big important successful thing so they will wait until they have reached a position of social strength before they confess Christ. By the time they have reached the position they no longer have the motivation to witness. Be faithful in little and you will be faithful in much. I John 3:22 says,  And we receive from him anything we ask because we obey his commands, and do what pleases him.

II Humble

Daniel's bravery was not only heartfelt, a determination to do what was right, but it was also humble. He went to the steward in charge and he said please let us do this. Again we read in verses 8-10, He asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.” This is a word of warning we all need. Many times there are people whom you have to admire for their persistent and tenacious holding to the truth and doing what's right, but they're not humble about it. They deliver ultimatums, something Daniel did not do. First he asked to be excused from the requirement, and when that request was denied he asked with deference if they might undergo a test as we read in verses 11-14, Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.”  So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days. It seems to me that that is the attitude of someone who has a right concept of God. Those that believe in His sovereignty do not become anxious and strident about doing what is right, they simply pursue it humbly. This is why the Bible says humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God. i saw an argument once on TV between a husband and wife. She was putting the dishes in the dishwasher and he came along and said you're doing it wrong. They should be put in this way because it's more efficient. She said maybe I want to put them in this way or this way and scrambled them up instead of being neat and in a row. He said there's a right way and a wrong way, and he said I can't understand why anybody would want to do it any other way because my way is the right way. He may have been right but he sure wasn't humble.

III Hopeful

Daniel's bravery was also hopeful. Daniel suggested a ten-day trial in the expectation that God would care for him and his friends and they would be as robust and rosy-cheeked as the others who were eating the fancy food of the king of Babylon and according to verses 15 and 16, they were: At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. Now there is a difference between expecting things you want and expecting something which you are fully persuaded is for God's glory. Those who expect things for God's glory are never disappointed even though the expectation might be frustrated. All we have to do to prove that is to look at Daniel 3:17 and 18, and the story of Daniel’s friends in the fiery furnace, If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” A young preacher once complained to Charles Haddon Spurgeon that he was disappointed how few people were converted under his preaching. Spurgeon thundered back at the timid young man, “Well you don't expect people to be converted every time you preach do you?” He replied with fear and trepidation “Well, no.” Spurgeon quietly said, “Well perhaps that is the reason you see so little fruit. Bravery for God is always hopeful.


Conclusion

In conclusion let us look again at a passage of Scripture with which our last message concluded, Hebrews 12:2 and 3, Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down on the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. As we fix our eyes on Jesus we see He was heartfelt in his obedience. He purposed in his heart to love us and save us. He endured the cross. endurance speaks of His determination. Secondly he was humble as he went to the cross. Paul says of Him that He humbled himself even unto the death of the cross. And he was hopeful because He did it for the joy that was set before him in bringing many sons into glory through his sufferings. In other words Daniel was acting like Jesus. I don't show you this, however. so that you can simply say that you want to be like Jesus. Thousands of atheists and humanists in the world would like to be like Jesus. i want you to realize that this is the dynamic of the kingdom of God. It is the energy, the force, the vigor, the vitality of spiritual life. In other words those who follow Jesus must have this reproduced in them. they must humbly and hopefully make a heartfelt determination to endure hardness for the sake of Christ just as Daniel did. If that dynamic does not work in us, then we are not real Christians. Jesus said anyone 
who would come after Him must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow in that way. There is no other way in this sinful world. When you live in Babylon you must act like Daniel. Those who are saved by the cross and Jesus’ atoning death must live by the cross and self denial.