March 1, 2020
Rose of Sharon Baptist Church March 1, 2020
Church Service Notes
Scripture: Daniel 1
This morning is youth Sunday and we celebrate the teenagers who are a part of our church family. For our message today I want our youth to understand that no matter your age – you are call to actively serve the Lord. I want all of us adults to know that too and to set our expectations for young people accordingly. Our society today seems to send a message that until you turn 18 years old it is okay to be irresponsible and young people cannot be trusted with important tasks. The Lord says differently. The Lord wants all of us, no matter our age, to be living and working for the Lord every day starting now! We cannot use age as an excuse. And the Lord shows us how He can use faithful young people in the Book of Daniel.
When the Book of Daniel begins we find in history that the Babylonians have conquered Jerusalem, a last holdout of the Jewish people. King Nebuchadnezzar has taken many of the Jewish people captive. Many of the captives will become slaves in Babylon. However, Scripture tells us that the Babylonians would chose some of the youth from among the captive people and place in training programs. Essentially these training programs were used to indoctrinate the captive into Babylonian ways. They wanted to take the most worthy children or youth and make them their own. This accomplished a few things. One, it brought talented people into the Babylonian circle and the Babylonians could take advantage of the talent. It also would help prevent slave uprisings. The selected youth chosen to bring into the program were the most likely future leaders of the slave peoples. Once those leaders were converted to Babylonian ways, then the others in the population would be likely to except the new way of life too. Daniel finds himself among this group, to be indoctrinated in the Babylonian life.
The indoctrination program would last three years and during this time the youth in the program were well cared for and taught many things. At the conclusion of the program the king himself would judge the graduates and decide their futures. As we continue into the Scripture consider the background again for Daniel and his friends. They have lived as children through war, a war the Babylonians who were their enemy won. They have seen their friends and families forcible taken captive and forced into slavery to the Babylonians. Now they are being directed into this program. Under these circumstances it would have been easy to deny faith in God and to excuse disobedience of God’s commands. But that is not the case for Daniel and the others.
We find in verse 5 a problem with the program that would force Daniel and the others to make a decision about their obedience to God. The boys were feed the king’s meat. The king’s meat would have been of the highest quality and certainly much better than what the slaves would be eating. It was probably very tempting to eat the king’s meat. But, doing so would not have been right. The king’s meat was food that had been offered to idols first and then pulled aside for human consumption. Eating of this meat would have associated the youth with idolatry which was wrong. Furthermore, the Jewish laws prescribed certain methods of food preparation that were most likely not followed by the Babylonians and so the meat would have been unclean by Scripture. It would have been wrong to eat unclean food. Daniel and the others had to choose should they go along with the program and eat the meat or risk their safety and decline the meat in order to remain obedient to God? We know Daniel and the others choose not to eat the meat. But why? How did they have the courage to make such a stand? The beginning of verse 8 tells us that “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself”. The purpose of Daniel’s heart is the key to his faithfulness and obedience to God! What is our heart purposed to? Is to self-gratification? Is to please another person? Is it not purposed at all? We must be purposed for God, this is how we maintain our faith and obedience. Youth and all of us must focus our hearts on God! Doing so will guard us from temptations, falling into sin, from the consequences of sin, and keep us from evils. It will keep us on the blessed road of the narrow path!
Verses 8-14 reveal how Daniel approaches the leader of the training program and makes known his desire to not eat the meat. The leader of the program is hesitant to allow the request, for doing so might mean the youth would fall behind the others. If they finished the program weaker than the rest the king would want to know why. And if the reason was a program leader allowed some youth to decide to follow Jewish ways instead of Babylonian ways then the king would have that leader killed. This was not an experiment or a hobby to be taken lightly. This program was a tried and true method of kingdom building that demanded results. The leader would risk his life placating these captive youth. The verse reveal to us another key in life that we need to learn and especially our youth. Daniel treats this leader with respect. He doesn’t make demands, he doesn’t throw a tantrum, he doesn’t manipulate, he doesn’t protest which are the actions our society suggests we take. Instead Daniel presents with respect and humility a wise reasoning that is acceptable to the leader. Of course in this circumstance God is working His plan. But we should always treat people with respect and learn how to work with authority and through conflict. I am reminded of Romans 12:17-21 and 13:1 which tells us to live peaceable with others and to honor God’s authorities. We need to learn this and our youth need to be mindful of this as they grow into the people God envisions them to be.
Verse 15-21 of the chapter reveal that the diet Danial and his friends pursue is found to be better than the kings meat. This is God at work in the circumstance. The result is blessings on Daniel and the others for their lives. They are not rescued out of Babylon, but they are given all they need to live in Babylon to God’s glory! God rewards their faithfulness with these blessings and all of it works together to bring God more glory and to point others to God. The Babylonians intended to indoctrinate these boys into Babylon. But God uses these faithful boys to establish His people in Babylon and eventually their influence and influence of future Jewish people within Babylon would lead to a Babylonian king allowing the Jews to return and rebuild Jerusalem! This reminds me of what Jesus taught in Matthew 6:33, seek the kingdom of God first and all these things shall be added. Daniel purposed in his heart to seek God first, Daniel lived his life respectful and humble according to God’s ways , and God rewarded Daniel. Young people, all of us, be sure to seek God’s kingdom first! Let’s all purpose our hearts to do so!
Scripture: James 3:1-12
Last week we focused on how our words reveal our heart. Tonight we will focus again on our words but now we will look at our words impact when they are wrong words. James gives us examples of the power our words have. He presents the comparisons of a bit controlling a horse and a helm an entire ship. Both the helm and the bit are tiny in size compared to the horse and the ship. But the tiny tools hold so much influence on the horse and ship. And so it is with our words, words may be thought as “small” or unimportant but they can powerfully direct and influence society, crowds of people, churches, families, and individuals. James also shares how our words are like a spark that causes huge raging fires when they are untamed and full of poison.
Tonight I want us consider ways our own words can be full of poison. When we read this passage we often think of ways we can be bad with our words such as using curse words, angry yelling, taking the Lord’s name in vain, lying, and false teaching. Certainly those are negative use of words. However, our words can poison in other ways too and I want to warn us in the church about other negative ways our words can be used.
The scathing tongue is a poison to avoid. I fear there are many Christians who avoid cursing, lying, and the like while out in public. However, when we are home and conflict arises among family do we tend to find scathing ways to cut someone down and win an argument? Do we insult our spouse or children? Are our words being used in a harsh way among our family members? Most of us probably experience conflict in our families. How do we handle it? Does is fester and eventually we unleash the scathing comment to hurt the other person? Do we say this front of other family members? As Christians what witness does this send to our unbelieving family members? When we use our words to cut family down the public and the church may never know it but what about our family? Are we driving some of family members away from the Lord as we scathingly scold others? Do we create tensions and divide our family with our words? When we speak scathing things to a family member, especially in the presence of other family members, it leads to family members choosing sides. What good is the disunity? Our families should be unified. We need to make sure our words spoken among family do not plant the seeds of tension and do not harm others impressions of Christians and God.
Another way our words can be like poison is when our words a meddlesome and always negatively critiquing and complaining. People like to complain to others. It seems so natural and commonplace. There is real danger in this. Consider a story from a pastor of enjoying a coffee in a restaurant. As the pastor sat there he couldn’t help but over hear the conversation of a group of ladies nearby. The ladies were evidently hard of hearing and talked loudly in order to hear each other. The subject of their conversation was the shortcomings of their pastor and all the missteps the pastor had taken. What impression of their church was being made to the others hearing their conversation? The issues the ladies were discussing would not be a way to draw people to God’s church. We must be aware of how our words are going to be perceived by others. We never know who is listening. We never know who we may drive away from church and away from God with our complaints. These meddling words can also create division in the church. When people constantly complain about another church person it creates opposition to the person. Often criticism is grounded in a desire to see the best possible church. But when our pride prevents us from handling the issues in a proper way and leads us to complaining to people unable to resolve a situation all that comes is division. We must guard our words from making this impact.
A third way our words can be poison is when our words are insensitive to others. This can be manifested in different ways. People sometimes make “jokes” that while intended to make a laugh can be interpreted by others as insulting. We can also discuss opinions as though they were facts and drive people away from us and possibly the church. We may be well intentioned with our opinion, but opinions are not truth. Where the Scriptures speak, we can know truth; where the Scriptures do not address a certain subject we should not presume to be the reckoner of truth. We must be careful in such circumstances to put what is known according to Scripture first and foremost. When we assume our opinion is superior to others without a Biblical basis it can drive people away from us and our churches.
There are many ways our words can be a poison and cause the fires James warns against. The Bible tells us in Ephesians to let our words be edifying and ministering unto grace. We need to filter our words through this guide and make sure our words are good in purpose rather than evil.
If we can be of help in some way to you, please let us know.
In Christ’s Love,