Derek Smith, Lead Pastor LHBC 

Daniel 1:8-20
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. 9 And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, 10 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.” 11 Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 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.” 14 So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. 15 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. 16 So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. 17 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. 18 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. 19 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. 20 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.

The story of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (or as they are more affectionately known Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) is such an incredible story of faith. These four teenagers are taken into captivity. They are shipped hundreds of miles away from home. No parents. No church. No spiritual accountability. No temple to worship at. They don’t even have a Bible because the scrolls on which the law had been written were not in their possession. Yet, somehow by the grace of God these four teenagers still chose to live for the Lord. Maybe that’s why God chose to encapsulate their story in the pages of Scripture forever. Now, I grew up in a godly home. My parents taught me the ways of the Lord. I was drugged as a child….drug to church every time the doors were open. I learned to love the church and to love the Lord….but it took a while. As great an upbringing as I had, still if I had no church, no parents, no accountability, and no Bible I probably would not have stayed strong. In fact, with all those things I wandered at times. 

What made the difference for them? In verse 8 it says that Daniel resolved in his heart early on in Babylon that he would not defile himself with the king’s delicacies. Resolve. That word means he determined not to follow the culture. It can be translated “he purposed in his heart.” Some synonyms for resolve are decisive, intent, and settled. To eat the king’s meat and drink his wine was, in essence, to worship Babylonian gods, and Daniel was having none of that. Daniel made a deep rooted decision in his heart not to worship anyone other than Yahweh God, not to give in to the pull of the world around him, and with the grace of God behind him he stuck to that decision. Now that’s faith, and from a teenager nonetheless. 

So, what about you and me? The world sets it’s table every day with a smorgasbord of fleshly delicacies for us to indulge in. It’s so easy to give in and still claim to be a Child of God, and many are doing just that. However, we cannot give up or give in. Jesus is the only way to Heaven. The Bible is the Word of God. God has called us to a pure and holy life. We are responsible for making disciples of our neighbors. Christ and His Church are the only hope for the world. 

Christ called us to be salt and light in a bland and dark world, but if we give up on the gospel or go back on the Bible we make ourselves useless. Today, let’s resolve like Daniel not to defile ourselves with the pleasurable, popular, and politically correct stuff of this culture. With Christian courtesy, kindness, and respect for all people we must stand. Throughout the ages it has been the Spirit-filled singular individuals, the stand alone churches, and the counter-cultural ministries which were unwilling to back up on the gospel but still engage culture who have made the greatest impact for the glory of God. 

Father God, I resolve today not to defile myself with the stuff of this world. Forgive me for thinking, speaking, or acting like the culture. You have called me to be salt and light and I want to obey you. Thank you for Your grace and strength to be what you’ve called me to be. In Jesus name I pray, amen. 

Matthew 5:14-16
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”