Seek the Good of the Place God Has Called You

Rob Green August 21, 2016 Daniel 1:

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Background Context to Understand the Book of Daniel

In 1445 BC, God entered into a covenant with His people—the Mosaic Covenant

God had delivered His people from slavery in Egypt and asked them to be loyal to Him alone.

For 800 years, with few exceptions, God’s people chased after other gods.

God, as promised in the covenant, judged his people’s unfaithfulness by destroying the nation of Israel.

In 605 BC, the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, one of the greatest monarchs who ever lived, took control of Israel’s capital—Jerusalem. In 586 BC Jerusalem was completely destroyed.

Part of Nebuchadnezzar’s war philosophy was to take the upcoming leaders of an enemy nation captive and attempt to indoctrinate them with the ways of his kingdom.

Young Daniel and his friends (12-14 years of age) were among the captives in Babylon.

While this exile of Israel was a judgment upon Israel that involved incredible suffering (See the book of Lamentations), God also promised that He would be with those in exile who followed Him. As a result, His loyal servants would be a blessing to the nations (Isaiah 55-56).

Daniel is an example of a servant of God who remained faithful to God alone. Consequently, God used Daniel to bring forth the message of the hope of the Kingdom of God that would destroy the anti-God kingdom of man.

God can use you to impact the world when you chose to be different in the following three ways…

I. Embrace God’s Plan for You

II. Follow the Lord Exclusively

III. Seek the Good of the Place God Has Called You

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Well this year, 2016, we have dedicated to the theme of Loving Our World. We as a church wanted to emphasize the ways in which we can love, and the people around us who actually needed loving.

Romans 13:8 says this: "Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another." In other words, even after you pay off all your debts, you still have the debt of loving one another. As a result, we've learned that we need to love all the nations, because God draws people from every tongue and every tribe and every nation, and so we care about missions and we're excited that the Hulls are actually heading off to Albania I think today? The Burkes are willing to stay here and to serve among us with international students at Purdue. Pastor Viars has the opportunity as Trey mentioned earlier to be in the Dominican Republic today.

Then we also spent some time this year thinking about Jonah; that loveless prophet we called him. Who struggled to love anyone except his kind of people. Then most recently, we spent time thinking about how to love those in our own homes and in our community. Beginning today, our study takes us to the book of Daniel. Our series title is going to be 'Loving Our World by Choosing to Be Different'. Daniel is going to be demonstrate an incredible amount of wisdom and thoughtfulness as he deals with various situations in his life. Thus, his example becomes instruction for us to do the same.

With that in mind, I invite you to turn your bibles to Daniel Chapter 1, Verse 1. That's on page 628 of the front section of the bible in the chair in front of you. Page 628, or Daniel 1:1. As you're getting there, I'd like to highlight several facts just as a way to orient us to where we are in the bible, and what's taken place already and what's coming ahead. Let's think first of all about the background context to the book of Daniel.

In 1445 BC or thereabouts, God entered a covenant with His people, the nation of Israel. We call that the Mosaic Covenant. Therefore, that begins God's relationship with the people from the nation of Israel. They were stuck in Egypt, and God delivers them from their slavery and then makes a covenant with them. When God delivers them from their slavery, He asks them to be loyal to Him alone. He says, "I want you in regard to Me from this point forward, to live thankful for all the things that I have done for you. I have redeemed you from your slavery. I have rescued you from it, and therefore I want you to live a loyal life to Me in thankfulness for all that I have done."

While you fast forward to the book of Daniel, you just traversed 800 years of history. In that 800-year period, with few exceptions God's people were chasing after other God's. They were finding their joy, their satisfaction, in other things. In fact, in the ancient world almost every one of the gods - I don't know, I can't keep track of them all, who's this one, who's that one, I'm not sure - almost all of them relate to one of three things. It's either fertility of land, fertility of animals, or fertility of people. What does that tell you it's about? Fertility. Some form of fertility. Either of people, of animals or of possessions. God's people ran after the things that they thought would give them that. God, as promised in His covenant, judged His people's unfaithfulness by destroying their nation.

Notice God had sent prophets to the nation over and over again, and He sent them a message that said, "Please repent. Please repent. You've been following after other things and making other gods more important than the one true God. Please repent." They did not listen. The Lord sent the Assyrians in the 700s, and then the Babylonians in 600, in order to destroy the nation of Israel.

In 605 BC, the King of Babylon his name was Nebuchadnezzar, one of the greatest monarchs who ever lived. Took control of Israel's capital and 20 years later actually completely destroyed it. It's in this context that we find the book of Daniel. Because part of his desire, or his philosophy, was to take the upcoming leaders of the enemy nation, and he took them captive and indoctrinated them in his ways. In other words, you think about it like this; not only was Babylon interested in destroying the nation, taking its physical resources, but more importantly they were after the human resources, the intellectual resources, that would keep the nation in poverty and in vanquished condition forever.

While young Daniel, and his friends (we don't know exactly how old they were, maybe 12, 14, maybe a little bit older than that) were among the captives that were taken to Babylon. While this exile of Israel was a judgement upon the nation of Israel that involved incredible suffering, God also promised that He would be with those in exile who followed Him. As a result, His loyal servants would be a blessing to the nations. See, Daniel understands two realities and it shapes the way he functions. On the one hand, he cries over the losses of his own nation, and on the other hand he has confidence and courage because he knows that God is with him in the midst of exile. Daniel has a rather important task, and that is he's an example of a servant of God who remained faithful to God alone. He remained faithful to God alone.

That was a little brief running history, and what I'd like you also to consider ... Maybe just jot down in your notes, is it might be helpful for you to also see the connections between Daniel and several other books of the Old Testament. For example, the Judgments and Jeremiah and Isaiah are fulfilled in Daniel's day. If you saw the sermon preview I encouraged you to read Jeremiah Chapter 29 in particular, because it serves as a foundation for how Daniel was to function when he was taken as an exile. The book of Habakkuk narrates the time period just before Daniel occurs; just months before Daniel takes place. The book of Lamentations describes what happens when the Babylonians came to destroy the nation of Israel. Then the books of Ezra and Nehemiah describe the events at the very end of Daniel's life. They explain how God restores His people to the land. In other words, those two things ... Those ideas come together throughout multiple books of the bible and it would be helpful if you read a little bit of Habakkuk just before, Lamentations during, and Ezra and Nehemiah after.

The last point before I get to the text. Daniel can be read from Daniel's point of view, from Babylon's point of view, and from God's point of view. It's important to actually think about all 3 of those points of view as we study together.

Let's read Daniel Chapter 1. This is the Word of the Lord. "In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, King of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. The Lord gave Jehoiakim, King of Judah, into his hand along with some of the vessels of the house of God. He brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his God. He brought the vessels into the treasury of his god. Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of the officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel including some of the royal family and of nobles; youths in whom there was no defect, who were good looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had the ability for serving in the king's courts. He ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans."

"The king appointed for them a daily ration from the king's choice food, and from the wine which he drank, and appointed that they should be educated 3 years at the end of which they were to enter the king's personal service. Among them were the suns of Judah: Daniel, Hannaniah, Mishael and Azariah. Then the Commander of the officials assigned new names to them, and to Daniel he assigned the name Belteshazzar; to Hannaniah Shadrach; to Mishael Meshach; and to Azariah Abednego."

"Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king's choice food, or with the wine which he drank. He sought permission from the Commander of the officials that he might not defile himself. Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion on the side of the Commander of the officials, and the Commander of the officials said to Daniel, 'I am afraid of my lord the King, who has appointed your food and your drink. For why should he see your faces looking more haggard than the youths who are your own age? Then he would make me forfeit my head to the king.' But Daniel said to the overseer whom the Commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, Hannaniah, Mishael and Azariah, 'Please task your servants for 10 days. Let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink, and then let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king's choice food, and deal with your servants according to what you see.'"

"He listened to them in this matter, and tested them for 10 days. Now at the end of the 10 days, their appearance seemed better, and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king's choice food. The overseer continued to withhold their choice food, and the wine which they drank and kept giving them vegetables. As for these 4 youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom. Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams. Then at the end of the days which the king had specified for presenting them, the Commander of the officials presented them before Nebuchadnezzar, and the king talked with them. One of them was none one found like Daniel, Hannaniah, Mishael, and Azariah, so they entered the king's personal service."

"As for every manner of wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them, he found them 10 times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in all his realm. Daniel continued until the first year, Cyrus the king."

What I would like us to consider is 3 ways in which God can use you to impact the world when you choose to be different. Out of Daniel, Chapter 1, here's the first one: embrace God's plan for you.

I. Embrace God’s Plan for You

Embrace God's plan for you. As I read the first 7 verses, I hope you were amazed at what you found. Daniel, Hannaniah, Mishael, and Azariah have suffered incredible loss, and there's a very casual explanation of what has occurred. Think about what they have lost, these young men 12, 13, 14, 15 years old. They have lost their family; they were part of the royal line. The line of leaders. The Babylonians had a very simple philosophy; join us or die. You will be assimilated. They were the ultimate Borg of Star Trek. They were assimilating everybody into their system, join us or die. My way or the high way. Whether Daniel's actual family members were killed or not, he still loses the normal contact and support that a teenager would have with his parents.

What about his home? He lived in the nation of Israel. Jerusalem is 500 miles as the crow flies ... From Jerusalem to Babylon. It's a 1000-mile journey on land. How would you like to walk that? And being forced to walk that? How would you like to be taken from your land, the promised land, the land that God had given, and instead you get to go live in the nation's capital that destroyed your country? Daniel had to endure that, so did his friends. Then we think about language. Not only do they lose their family, they lose their home, but Nebuchadnezzar instructs Ashpenaz, "You're to teach them the language and literature of the Chaldeans." Therefore, he moves from his standard Hebrew to now he is forced to learn Aramaic as well as Acadian. Being moved to a new country and forced to learn a new language is a fairly stressful environment. It would be discouraging in that situation. When is it you can retreat, turn your brain off? These guys had the responsibility to go and live somewhere else, learn a new language, be part of a new culture.

What about corporate worship? Where are these guys going to find the local synagogue to go hang out and to read the psalms, and to encourage one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs? Where were they going to be taught to read the Word and to study the Word?

All these boys new was taken away from them. To live some thousand miles away in a new home, a new culture, a new language, without parents or relatives. That's not all they lost. What about their future jobs? As gifted members of the royal family, they were in line for quality government positions. Now they have been selected to serve the king who destroyed their nation and killed their people. How would you like to be forced to live in another nation? New language, and serve a new country that killed your family and friends? It's hard to even imagine.

See in Verse 7, not only were they taken away from their home, but they were each given new names. They weren't of their own choosing, by the way. Each of them had a name. Daniel, that name roughly means 'God is my judge'; Hannaniah roughly means 'Yahweh is gracious'; Mishael roughly means 'Who is like God is?'; Azaraiah is similar to 'Yahweh will help'. You notice each one of their names has some sort of connection to their God? In some form or fashion, their name represents part of their relationship with God. Here's the new names they get; Daniel gets to be called Belteshazzar, that is a petition to the Babylonian god Bel to protect his life. Hannaniah gets the name Shadrach, which is a name referring to another Babylonian god named Aku. Mishael, his name gets transferred from 'Who is like God is?' To 'Who is like Aku is? Azaraiah is a name which roughly means 'Yahweh will help' but he gets a new name which basically means that he's the servant of another Babylonian god named Nebo.

Each of their original names was a connection to the Lord. Each of their new names has a connection to the Babylonian gods. Isn't it true that one of the most basic ways in which we have our identity, and one of the most basic ways in which we relate to one other, is through our name? What somebody calls you immediately begins to explain what kind of relationship that you have. When someone calls me, Mr. Green, I know one of the two things: you are either a telemarketer or you are one of my children's friends. Those are the only people who would ever call me that. Those who call me Dr. Green I know pretty much seminary student who is here for the first time. We just don't use those titles around here, so when people do it reminds you this is the relationship we have. When someone just calls me Rob, that means they're one of my friends, right?

How would you like your name to be 'God is my judge' Daniel, and then every day thereafter you have the privilege of being called Belteshazzar, 'Bel will protect your life'?

These four friends; not only taken from their home, they've lost their family, missing a church family, forced to interact in a new language, and then every day they're reminded of that reality through their name. I wanted to paint a picture in Verses 1-7 of hardship. Their lives have turned upside down. But what is surprisingly missing from the first 7 verses? Is complaints.

Jonah, as we saw earlier this year, he's asked to go deliver a message to Nineveh and he says, "Forget that! I don't want any part of that. I'm out of here." He whines about going and delivering a message to Nineveh. Daniel and his friends are forced to go and live the rest of their lives in Babylon, and they're not whining. What explains that? What explains these 4 boy's response? How are Daniel and Hannaniah and Mishael and Azaraiah able to endure, even embrace what God is doing in their life without complaint? I want to suggest to you that as I read through you got an answer to that question.

The answer is that they believed in a sovereign and good God who was with them every step of the way. Did you see it? In Verse 2. The text says, "The Lord gave Jehoiakim, King of Judah into his hand." It didn't say that Nebuchadnezzar came with better battle tactics. It didn't say that he came with better weaponry. It didn't say that he came with more men. It simply says, "The Lord delivered Jehoiakim over to the hand of Nebuchadnezzar."

What about Verse 9? After Daniel makes the petition, that is to please give us vegetables and water instead of the king's food, it says that God granted Daniel favor and compassion. Did you see it in Verse 17? When the young men were brought before Nebuchadnezzar? The text says that "God gave them knowledge and intelligence." These 4 boys, whatever was going on in their lives up to this point, God had worked mightily in their lives and they believed with all their heart that God was doing this. This wasn't happening somehow outside of God's plan, or outside of God's control. They believed it and they embraced it.

They have, at least in their opinion, a massive-sized God who's plans and purposes and actions are so much higher and so much better than their own. Their theological convictions regarding the truth about who God is, that trumped their circumstances. They didn't allow their circumstances to say, "Well God doesn't care. God isn't interested in us. God doesn't worry about what's happening to me." Instead, they read their circumstances through their theology. Their theology told them that a good and sovereign God is working out his plan. They had read the bible. They knew that God was working and was going to work in their lives.

That leaves a question for us; are we willing to embrace God's plan for our lives? Or do we say, "Lord, he's the deal. We want you to embrace our plan for our lives. We've got an idea. We'd like to do this, we'd like to do that, and Lord we want you to bless our efforts." In other words, does God get to decide? Or does God have to be the ultimate genie who's simply the deliverer to make our plans successful?

Proverbs 3, 5, and 6 reminds us to "trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him," and then He will do what? He will direct your paths. But He might direct it in a way that you weren't expecting, like Daniel and his friends. They didn't know that the judgement was going to come on their watch. They didn't know when it was going when they were young boys. They knew it was coming, but they didn't know it was happening to them. As they saw it, they embraced it. Are we willing to do that? Are we willing to embrace as a church, as a family, as an individual, God's plan? Ultimately, the Lord just might decide that in the part of directing our steps he might decide to give us a little detour; give us an opportunity to prove whether or not we're really on God's plan or on our own.

It's pretty easy to follow God's plan when it matches ours, isn't it? But sometimes God sends a little detour to prove it. I remember one day Pastor Viars was speaking to all our staff, and we were just talking about a particular project that wasn't going quite as well as we hoped. Here's what he said: "The Lord sometimes allows high obstacles and extreme difficulties to find out if you really want to follow him or not." Do you really want to follow him? Are you willing to work for that particular plan, or purpose that God has? Or does it get a little tough and then you're like, "Okay, fine. That's not that big of a deal." In other words, Daniel had to prove that he wanted to follow the Lord, and part of the way he did that was he embraced God's plan.

If we do that, we're also in a position to be loving our world, huh? Because part of God's plan is to leave us here, not just to teleport us off this rock, but to leave us here to be a witness for Him.

II. Follow the Lord Exclusively

That brings us to the second point. We saw this in Verses 8 to 16. To follow the Lord exclusively. You know we're told  in Verse 8 as we get to this part of the text, after Daniel and his friends arrive, they've been given this new name, they are now in the indoctrination program; "Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king's choice food, or with the wine which he drank." When I read that, I'm reminded these guys were going to be eating well. The king always gets the best, right? He gets the best meat, he gets the best produce, he gets the best that money can buy. He also gets the staff to prepare it. Daniel and his friends have a personal, professional chef, with an unlimited budget in order to deliver the best of everything. But Daniel and his companions don't evaluate the situation that way. They don't look at it and say, "Man, hasn't God blessed us with a tremendous menu? Hasn't the Lord given us just this wonderful food that quite frankly we're eating better now in Babylon than we did in Jerusalem."

That's not how he looks at it. He looks at it through the lens of his relationship with the Lord, and he draws a line. He draws a line because he says, "this particular food and drink represents a threat to my relationship with the Lord." I don't know exactly what things he was referring to, maybe there were some dietary laws that he had in mind. Maybe there was just the concept of idolatry that was present there, that that particular food represented. The text doesn't tell us exactly why Daniel draws a line right here. But he does. He has tolerated a lot to this point. He has put up with a lot already, and yet at this particular moment, he decides this food is where I've got to take a stand. I have to draw a line. So he respectfully asks for a course of action. The bible doesn't promise us that Daniel's course of action is going to result in blessing, does it? In fact, the text could say, "At the end of the 10 days Daniel and his friends were examined and they were executed because they didn't look very good." It never promises. God never promised to Daniel that God was going to bless that.

Yet, that's exactly what Daniel was willing to put on the line. "I'm going to respectfully pursue a course of action that will help me maintain my integrity with the Lord." One of the questions that we have to ask is, am I willing to do that? Do I have any lines? Just as Daniel had to tolerate quite a bit, there was one thing apparently that he wasn't willing to tolerate. He wasn't willing to tolerate this defilement which in some form or fashion said to him that he is no longer in a right relationship with his God. He wasn't willing to give that up. He could give up his name. He could be called Belteshazzar ... How annoying would that be? How annoying would it be to be called something that represents the foreign god who destroyed your country? It would be annoying. But he tolerates that. He has to go live in a new language. He tolerates that too. A new culture. He tolerates that too. He's going to serve a wicked despot. That's true, that's okay. He's willing to do that too. But what he's not willing to do is to sacrifice his relationship to God. In some form or fashion, he believes that this food is a part of that.

Now here's the question we have to ask. Are we willing to do that? If we see a threat to our relationship with God, do we take a stand? What about with entertainment? Is there any line in entertainment? When it comes to what we watch, here's the line right here. When it comes to what we listen to, here's the line right here. When it comes to what we play, here is the line right here. When it comes to where we go, here is the line. Daniel had them. He didn't have them everywhere, but he had lines that represented threats to his relationship with his Lord.

One of the questions that I have raised, at least in my own mind, is what would have happened if he'd be told he had to eat the food? Yeah, we evaluated for 10 days, and we decided not to grant your request any longer. Or you know, I've got a pretty big job here, I've got all these people in the indoctrination program and I just really don't have a lot of time for your craziness. Daniel's willing to put all of that on the line. Teens, students, now that school's in session, does peer pressure encourage you to chuck your spiritual life right out the window? I'll be spiritual on Sunday when all of my spiritual people are around, but when it comes to Monday to Saturday I'll live however I want. What about us at work? Does the pressure or consequences associated with our job make us throw our Christianity out the window? When the foul jokes come around, or people want to develop inappropriate relationships, or they want to waste time, or our Christian convictions ultimately means that we have an upper limit to our advancement? The question is, will we still follow the Lord? Will we have a line? That says we're not crossing this particular line, this is it right here.

For those of you who would say, "Well I'm not sure why anybody would do that?" Maybe that's because you haven't taken that initial step to follow Christ to begin with. Maybe it's because you're still living in a place where you have never repented of your sin and acknowledged your need for the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. I want to encourage you that one of the things that we find out of Daniel is he believes in a big, amazing sovereign God, and therefore he's willing to put his life on the line. He will bet it more than once. If that just sounds crazy to you, maybe it's because you don't have a personal walk with the Lord yourself. I want to encourage you to get that settled today. Don't put it off.

Let's shift all of us back to the home for a minute. Does our relationship with Christ encourage us to deal with our sinful anger? Does it encourage us to communicate with our spouse or our children instead of ignore them? Does it encourage us to expose our areas of hidden sin? Does it encourage us to discipline our children even if they're going to be mad at us? The point is, are we willing to really follow the Lord exclusively?

III. Seek the Good of the Place God Has Called You

The third thing we find in this text is to seek the good of the place that God has called you. This may sound a little bit surprising. It may not be obvious. I'd like to highlight several things here; Verse 17, "As for these four youths God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom, and Daniel even understood all the kinds of visions and dreams. Then at the end of the days which the king had specified for presenting them, the Commander of the officials presented them before Nebuchadnezzar." This is very interesting right here. Up to this point, I argued in the first 7 verses it encourages us to embrace God's call even if it God's call is something different than what we expected. It verses 8 to 16, encouraged you to see the significance of following the Lord exclusively, because He is our God, even if it costs us something. But then right here, we also see that Daniel and his friends actually completed the indoctrination program. They actually understood the language. They understood the literature. They had studied all the branches of Babylonian wisdom.

In other words, remember Jeremiah 29? God gave that instruction to the nation and said, "I want you to build houses in Babylon. I want you to plant gardens in Babylon. I want you to take wise in Babylon. I want you to give your daughters to their men in Babylon. I want you to seek the welfare of the city." Daniel and his friends graduated at the top of their class in the indoctrination program. Is it possible, maybe just possible, that they studied material that wasn't exactly biblical? I mean, they didn't have Genesis 101, and then Deuteronomy 204? That's not what they were studying. They were studying like Aramaic 101, and Arcadian 203. Get called Belteshazzar, "Hey did you do your assignment last night?" Yeah, I got it done. Then they took their math class, then they took their Babylonian History class, which of course recounted on all of the amazing things that the Babylonians and the Babylonian gods had done for them. Can you imagine how annoying that would be?

Then you get to sign up for Conjurer 101. Did you see that? In Verse 20, notice there's these little clues, very fascinating: "As for every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them, he found them 10 times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in his realm." So Daniel and his friends were in the class of magicians and conjurers. Conjurer 101. Magician 101 was not how to do cool magic tricks to impress your friends. It was astrology 101. How many of you checked your horoscope this morning? How many of you even know what your symbol is? Thankfully, when I check mine the dates are included so I can figure out which of the nonsense statements applies to me.

Daniel and his friends learned all of that. Because the purpose of the astrology was to determine the will of the Babylonian gods and you know what? Daniel did that too. He took the class. He got an A on the test. He understood. He invested his life into the studies in which he was given. It's hard to believe that. Were there battle lines? Yep, there were. Like the food. But the vast majority of the time, here's how Daniel functioned; he sought the good of the place that God had called him. He went to be the best. Are we like that? If God has called us to a particular place, are we like that? If you're an engineer, be the best one. If you're a computer programmer, be the best one. If you're a teacher, be the best one. If you work construction, be the best one. Whatever God has called you to do, whatever it is, like be the best at it.

Then there's something else that we need to see here. That is, it says in Verse 21, "Daniel continued until the reign of Cyrus the king." It's really easy to miss that comment. But if you think about it, you realize this, Cyrus is actually not the king in Daniel 1. Who's the king? It's Nebuchadnezzar. Cyrus is going to be the king 70 years later. In fact, he wasn't even Babylonian. He was Persian, after the Persians destroyed the Babylonians. So Daniel has his life mission, his life work, is dedicated to the Babylonians and the Persians. Daniel 1:21 makes it clear that his calling was not simply educational. It wasn't just, "Hey the Lord wants you to go to Babylon to get a really great education, so that then you can go back and serve the Lord in Israel." That wasn't God's plan. God's plan was for Daniel and his friends to serve these wicked nations for their entire lifetime. 70 years. He was dedicated to serving some of the worst despots known to human history. Nebuchadnezzar wasn't exactly a nice guy. Cyrus wasn't exactly a nice guy. Yet, that's exactly where Daniel is asked to serve.

Daniel's work was to be a bright light for the Lord in a very dark place. Every time he heard His name, he was reminded of the darkness of the place that he is in. I fear that if we're being honest, we wouldn't want God to bless us in an effort like that. We want God to put us in a place that's comfortable. A place that's nice. A place that's enjoyable. Then we want God to just bless it. Maybe he will? Maybe that is God's call for us. But maybe God's call is going to be a little different. Our nation is in a time of turmoil, wouldn't you say? Our country is. It's not a guarantee that 10 years from now it's going to be better, or more evangelical, or more Christian in its principles. Maybe we could learn a lesson from Daniel on this point. That is, let's covenant to do something. To seek the good of the place that God has called us. So be a good neighbor. Be easy to get along with. Some neighbors aren't exactly easy to get along with. Will you be one that is? Be easy to get along with. Helpful in times of challenge. Be a good worker. Do your best. Help your place of business actually succeed.

Be a good family. Where home is a great place to be. Let's be good citizens. We live, at least in this point in our lives in the Lafayette, West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County area. Let's make it a good place to live. A good place to worship. A good place to raise families. Let's adhere to the advice even that Martin Luther King gave, and that is that we judge people by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin. That might be a little different than some other places around our nation. Let's talk about voting with kindness and respect, even to those who might think a little bit differently.

In other words, let's seek the good of the place that God has called us, and then let's covenant to be a good church. Where the name of Jesus is lifted high, where the Word is proclaimed, and where everyone is welcome, regardless of the clothes that you wear, the job you do, the nation in which you were born, or the language in which you speak. Maybe if we do that, if we embrace His call, if we have true and genuine dividing lines that delineate our relationship with our God and we seek the good of the place that God has called us, then maybe God will work mightily in this church and this community. Where we can be a bright light for all that happens right here.

Let's pray. Father, we want to thank you for Daniel 1, and just this clear text of scripture. I am thankful for the way in which you worked in Daniel and his friends to bring them to the place where they embraced your calling even though it was hard. Where they followed you exclusively, whenever they saw a threat to their relationship with you, they took a stand. Then Lord, they sought the good of the place that you called them, in other words, when it wasn't a threat to their walk with you, they joyfully and wholeheartedly, participated. Lord, would you help us to be like that too? We embrace your call even if it's different than we thought. That we follow you. We have lines that are very clear in our own heart, our own life, regarding what would damage our relationship with you. Then Lord, that we seek the good of this place, by being the best. Because we want to honor you, and as long as you're having a sojourn here, that you would help us to be the best that we can in order to honor you, and to lift high the name of Jesus. We ask for your help in Jesus' name. Amen.

Rob Green

B.S. - Engineering Physics, Ohio State University
M.Div. - Baptist Bible Seminary
Ph.D. - New Testament, Baptist Bible Seminary

Pastor Rob Green and his wife, Stephanie, joined the Faith staff in August, 2005.  Rob’s responsibilities include oversight of the Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry and teaching New Testament at the Faith Bible Seminary. He serves on the council board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and as a fellow at the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.

Read Rob Green's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Green to Faith Church.