- Sermon Notes
Choose Christ in the Chaos
Intro: Skiing or Drowning?
The chaos of this life can be a challenge to navigate. There are so many distractions, difficulties, uncertainties and false life-lines, it’s hard to make sense of what we are supposed to be doing. In all of this, however, we have a sure hope, a firm foundation! Despite all trials and troubles, God is still stable and sure. We can choose to cling to Christ in this chaos.
Today we are going to read about Daniel’s example of staying true to the Lord. Although he was in the midst of a chaotic change and challenge, Daniel would cling to the one He knew transcended it all. When confusion, hardship, and temptation besieged him, he chose to fix his eyes on the real prize.
Read: Daniel 1:8-21
When Daniel was in a foreign land and all that he had known was being pulled away, he refused to let them remove his God. His relationship with the Lord was sacred, and this focus on God’s will and wisdom blessed Daniel more than the riches of the world. We can take that example and fly with it! Life may be full of chaos, but Jesus is still enough.
I. Be Committed To The Lord
- Daniel finds himself in the center of the Babylonian empire. Almost every stable thing in his life seems to have been stolen from him.
- Not only that, but he is surrounded by powers and authorities that wanted him to conform to the ways of their kingdom. A swirl of voices and forces attempting to influence and mold him in their image.
- Forcing him to eat the diet chosen by the king was part of preparing Daniel to serve that king, but for Daniel it would mean eating foreign, likely un-kosher, food. While we aren’t called to this as Christians (1 Corinthians 8:8), this was a problem for Daniel because God had given the people of Israel very specific instructions about what food was clean and what food wasn’t. For Daniel to eat it would mean breaking Jewish law.
- The food would have been very appealing. It was the king’s choice food, any citizen of the empire would be privileged to eat it! I can only imagine how tempting it would have been for Daniel.
Illus. Marble Slab
- Daniel faced temptations of pleasure, opportunity, success, and more in this chaotic season. From an earthly perspective, he would have been foolish to follow any path aside from the one the king had decreed.
- Like Daniel, many of us are in a season of conflict and struggle. A moment in our life where the voices and forces around us contend for our minds and hearts.
- It’s easy to be paralyzed with uncertainty, or married to a worldly life-line (all of which will parish). Life is difficult to navigate in true wisdom and righteousness.
- Yet, we have an antidote available to us. A rock in the midst of sinking sand, a tether to truth, hope, and life!
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
- If we want to have a chance at maneuvering through complex issues and trials successfully, the Word teaches us that we must be committed to Christ. Trusting Him to establish our path.
- This is one of Daniel’s great strengths, his determination to prioritize God’s will and calling, even when it may have wrestled against his personal perspective. He knew his greatest purpose only came to light in the Lord’s will.
- Remember Who You Are
- Although the Babylonians took him, changed his name, and began to fill his mind with the words of their kingdom and their gods, Daniel would not abandon his God.
- Daniel was a child of Israel, scripture suggests that he may have even been royalty (Daniel 1:3-4). He did not forget who he was.
Romans 8:16-17 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
- You are a child of the King of kings! Your inheritance is the kingdom of heaven. That is a high destiny, that’s the greatest identity anyone could find. Through faith in Jesus, you are counted as royalty, this is who you are!
- One important reminder for us is that our hope lies beyond this life, our interests are eternal, not ephemeral, we are just passing through this land we are in now- on our way to forever with Jesus.
- I understand why we get so caught up in the concerns of this land, I’m not saying we shouldn’t care. I am saying that we should be far more concerned about the kingdom of God and what our choices now mean in relationship to God’s big plan.
Illus. What’s the Focus?
- We are called to lift our eyes to the hills (Psalm 121), to seek the Lord for help, hope, and wisdom. We can get so engrossed in what is happening right in our faces that we miss that greater truth of our life.
- Daniel remembered that he was a child of God and that his purpose was great, even in a foreign land. We need to have the same continual revelation.
- We are here with a purpose that extends far above and beyond this moment in history. Yes, it involves this moment, but it does not end with it.
2 Corinthians 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
- Our ambassadorship is meant to be woven into the fabric of our lives. Daniel and his friends spend their time in Babylon beaconing the might and goodness of our God, the account we read toady being the first of many. God put them there to demonstrate His glory. He has the same purpose for us.
- The question is, will we follow the structure of Daniel’s story, and commit ourselves to the calling the Lord has given us?
- Make Up Your Mind
Daniel 1:8 Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself
- Daniel had already decided that he wasn’t going to defile himself. His mind was made up.
- Interestingly, there were many things that Daniel went along with, he let them call him by a foreign name, he learned their language and customs, he was even willing to serve the king, but he refused to let himself be spiritually compromised.
- When God’s command came into conflict with the kings plan, Daniel already knew what he would choose.
Illus. Having a spine
- There is wisdom in having the same sort of structure in our lives. Flexible in our traditions and earthly ways, but critically firm in our convictions and commitment to Truth, to Jesus.
- Such determination aided Daniel in his trial. He was intent on finding a way to avoid breaking the Lord’s instruction. Even when the initial answer to his request seemed like a no, he was persistent and God showed him the favor he needed.
- Like Daniel, we have to remain focused on and dedicated to the calling God has given us. To stay on the path that God has laid out for us, our focus needs to be laser-like.
Hebrews 12:2 Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Illus. Walking the tight rope
- We have a calling to keep our eyes locked on Jesus, and you know what? It’s a beautiful view.
- Certainly, He knows how to lead us through the chaos in righteousness. Not only that, committing to Jesus opens up a fountain of blessings greater than anything the world can offer.
- What God Gives Is Better
- While most of the young men around them feasted on what was given, Daniel and his three friends ate only vegetables. Those in charge of Daniel would expect him to be less nourished and weaker than his peers.
- For Daniel, it would have been so simple to give in and accept what was being offered to him, but when it came down to it, he wasn’t picking between choice food and vegetables, Daniel was choosing between the conventions and wisdom of the world, and the calling and blessing of the Lord.
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be
transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
- Daniel refused to be conformed to the world around him, even though it seemed like the path to success in the king’s court.
- We cannot allow ourselves to be molded sinfully, even if that seems like the quickest path to winning in this world.
- As followers of Christ, we know that having things right with God is better than whatever anyone else could offer.
- Throughout Daniel’s story God blesses him with gifts and favor beyond what anyone else could give. God grants him “favor and compassion” with the overseer, and He also gave him gifts of knowledge, intelligence, wisdom, and understanding.
- God can afford to give us good things. His gifts are good, genuine, often eternal, and more precious than anything the world can offer.
Psalm 107:9 For He has satisfied the thirsty soul And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.
- Choose the Spiritual Feast
- At the end of the 10 day trial period Daniel and his friends looked heathier than all the other boys. Because of this they were allowed to remain on God’s meal-plan!
- I hope you caught that, even though the wisdom of the age expected malnourishment, Daniel was thriving!
- We live in a time where there are many sources that would fill us up. Narratives that flood our hearts and minds. There are many competing voices, all crying “we have the truth, we have the answers!”
- But as they say, “you are what you eat.” What you take in and take to heart starts to shape you. If it’s junk, then that can reflect in your life, if it’s poison, it could be your death.
- The problem truly arises when false narratives or distractions start to edge out the truth of the Lord, the truth of the Gospel.
- The world will force feed us junk or poison and tell us it’s a health fad! We need to maintain a steady diet of truth, of scripture, of Christ surrendered th ought and prayer.
Matthew 6:33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you.
- Don’t Settle for Less
- When all the young men were presented before the king it quickly became evident that Daniel and his friends outclassed all the rest, and they were chosen to serve the king personally. Not only that, they were found to be 10 times better than all the men of wisdom and understanding the king could find!
- In Daniel, the Lord found a faithful man who was unwilling to settle for what the king could provide. If you want more than this world has to offer, then you have to stand your ground in favor of God’s path and purpose.
- If you fill your life with the riches of this world then how will you have room to receive God’s greater riches?
Philippians 3:7-8 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ
- Everything the kings of this earth can offer you is rubbish when compared to just knowing Jesus. Know that our God’s provision is surpassingly good. Let him be your source and your center.
Psalm 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
When the trials and temptations come, and the chaos is mounting will you choose to keep Christ at the center?
But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself. Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials. The commander of the officials said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has allotted your food and your drink; for why should he see your faces looking gaunt in comparison to the youths who are your own age? Then you 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, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Please put your servants to the test for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be examined 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.” So he listened to them in this matter, and put them to the test for ten days. And at the end of ten days their appearance seemed better, and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king’s choice food. So the overseer continued to withhold their choice food and the wine they were to drink, and kept giving them vegetables. And as for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every kind of literature and expertise; 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, and out of them all not one was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; so they entered the king’s personal service. As for every matter of expertise and understanding about which the king consulted them, he found them ten times better than all the soothsayer priests and conjurers who were in all his realm. And Daniel continued until the first year of Cyrus the king.