College & Career by R.H. Boyd by R.H. Boyd - Read Online

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College & Career - R.H. Boyd

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Prayer

LIVING YOUR CONVICTIONS

Unifying Topic: A Sincere Faith

DANIEL 1:8–21

BACKGROUND SCRIPTURE: DANIEL 1

Daniel 1:8–21

INTRODUCTION

The relationship between secular culture and the Church can be very tense. Culture tries to tell Christians what to value and how to express those values. Often culture sets the agenda for what Christians are talking about in their congregations. Frequently these are not the fundamental issues that Christians need to be discussing together but instead smaller problems to be decided by larger theological truths. This is not a wrestling match found in only one country. Christians the world over struggle to express faith without compromising with culture.

This problem is also ancient. From the time Israel was called out of Egypt, God’s people have always struggled to remain faithful to Him in the midst of other people who did not care about the Lord or following in His ways. For instance, immediately after God freed the Israelite slaves from Egypt, they began to worry that He had only taken them out of Egypt to let them die in the desert. They constructed a golden calf to pray to, just as the Egyptians might have done (Exod. 32). This pattern would persist in Canaan where the Israelites failed to eliminate the foreign influences that would drag them away from exclusive worship of the Lord and toward other gods like Dagon or Baal.

Life.Point

Faithfulness in small things creates faithful habits for every situation.

Lesson.Point

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah loved and obeyed God even in exile.

Section I

How can you practice greater faithfulness in small things?

Section II

What seemingly harmless habits could you change in order to be more faithful?

Section III

What tensions do you face at work or school between performing well and remaining faithful?

Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah faced this problem many centuries after the exodus. They were slaves to the Babylonians after the siege of the Southern Kingdom of Judah around 605 BC. (The Northern Kingdom of Israel had been destroyed by the Assyrians around 722 BC.) The Babylonians captured the city in the third year that King Jehoiakim reigned in Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar demanded men from royal and noble families to be brought to his own palace, young men without physical defect and handsome, versed in every branch of wisdom, endowed with knowledge and insight (Dan. 1:4, NRSV), to be taught to serve in Babylon as wise men. Between learning Babylonian ways and being provided for by the Babylonian king, it would be easy for the Jewish youth to simply blend in and become part of Babylon. As God had intervened with Joseph when he served the pharaoh in Egypt, He continued to protect and bless the exiled captives as they struggled against imperial forces to remain faithful to Him. This account of the controversy over the type of food given to Daniel and his companions may seem insignificant, but their refusal of food and drink were directly tied to their commitment to Yahweh. Daniel and his companions faced an age-old dilemma: Whom should they obey, man or