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Jack Graham - Do or Die Decisions

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    Jack Graham - Do or Die Decisions

We want to live fearless, faithful lives in our generation. So, we've been looking at people like Moses, and last week Esther who God raised up in His plan, in His providence to save a nation and she fearlessly stood for her God and for her people "for such a time as this". And it is now in these days, in these times that we're also taking a stand and we are learning great lessons of truth for our own generation. Today's subject, today's story is found in the book of Daniel, and, of course, it's about Daniel himself. The Bible describes Daniel as a man beloved of God. What a beautiful thing to say about anyone. A man, a woman beloved of God. And you should know at the outset of this message that God loves you! You are loved by God! Well, Daniel was a man loved by God. And he possessed a courageous, fearless faith, and his faith inspires and motivates and moves us today to make godly decisions; do or die decisions.

Yogi Berra was known for some strange statements. He one time said when you come to the fork of a road, take it. Well, you just can't take both sides of the road, both forks of the road. You have to at times make a decision and that decision then, as I've been saying shapes your life. Well, Daniel was a decisive decision-making individual. And in the first chapter of Daniel, the key verse is verse 8, for it says: "Daniel resolved (or some translations have it) he purposed in His heart 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. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs". Do or die decisions.

Now let's catch up with Daniel because Daniel and his friends Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego, along with other choice young Hebrew boys had been captured in the Babylonian captivity, and taken from Jerusalem all the way to Babylon, many, many miles from home. They were ripped out of their lives and now they're being pressured as young men chosen to serve the king who had a high profile and great upside in their life. They're class individuals; they're sharp. They're smart and so they've been chosen to be servants of the king. And so, they're then pressured to become more and more like the people of Babylon. Just like we are often pressured to make decisions based on the world around us. In the Bible Babylon is often illustrative of the world and the world system.

So just as Daniel and his friends are captured and living in Babylon, we are living right now in this world and the world system, the culture, the secular culture around us, like Babylon, a godless, idolatress culture seeks to conform us and change us and make us like the world. So, we all have a decision to make while we're living in this world. While we're living here and now, we must decide if our decision, the direction of our lives will be determined by the Word, the Word of God or by the world, what the word says, God's word and what the world says. The Bible says we are not to love the world. In fact, John tells us in 1 John that friendship with the world, the love of the world is a fight with God, enmity with God. You cannot love the world and love God. The fact is, we live in the world, we're here, but we're never to love the world. We live in the world, but as Christians and followers of Jesus, we're to put the world behind us and the cross before us, and live for Him. We're not to be like the world. We're not to be like everyone else.

I've been watching a documentary on the great Michael Jordan, the basketball player, and you know, of course, the world knows how to make us buy things and so you're remember when some of the shoes came out that Michael Jordan was selling back in the nineties and to this very day, there was an ad campaign that said, "I want to be like Mike; I want to be like Mike". Well, that sells because people want to be like Mike or someone who is a celebrity and we all want to fit in and we all want to conform. So, we buy those shoes or we buy that shirt or we wear this certain style because we want to fit in. And while appropriate style is always, well, appropriate, we're not to live our lives consumed with being like the world; not consumed with being like someone else. We are to courageously and graciously always, always obey God and not man. We are to think differently and act differently. We believe differently, therefore, we are to behave differently in the world.

And this is the testimony of Daniel, the man beloved of God. Here he is, living far from home, and with a few friends by his side he makes a decision as a young man that totally determines the rest of his life. He made a decision that became the transformative and tipping point of his life. And when you look at the decision that he made; it was in the midst of change in his own life. As I was saying he was taken over into Babylon, along with his friends. These three friends that are mentioned here. And the object of the Babylonians at this time was to take these young men, and there was a process, an education going on to turn these four Hebrew boys into Babylonian men, worldly men. So, they are being taught the language of the Babylonians. These men spoke Hebrew, but now they're going to have a new language. They were educated with the wisdom of the Babylonians. They had new literature, they had new language, they had a new lifestyle. I mean even his name was changed, along with these three other Hebrew boys.

Daniel's name means... the word Daniel, the name Daniel means God Judges or God is the Judge. And so his name is changed to Belteshazzar which means something like Save the king, or Baal saves the king. And he's promised, if he will just go along and fit in to the process and change his ways and change his culture, that he's going to have a big-time job in the government. So it's a bright light in his face. And yet in this process, really a systematic brainwashing, they're changing the way these boys are thinking, they're changing everything about their lives. They were fundamentally trying to change the core of these young men. You know, there are people today in this world, unbelievers, leftists and liberals and the like, who want to fundamentally change the way we live our lives. They want to transform the culture in a way that does not include God and the ways of God.

Daniel was living in a culture just like this. And he was being advised to turn from his God and to trust in the king. So then came his resolve, and I want you to think with me for just a few moments about our resolve, the believer's resolve. As his faith is being tested, as his faith is on the line, he made that choice. He resolved in his heart. He made up his mind. He purposed in his heart that he would not be stained, that he would not be defiled, that he would not be spotted by the world in drinking the king's wine and eating the king's food, the king's vast banquet of delicacies. And what he did with his decision, with his resolve, changed the rest of his life.

Several reasons that Daniel and his three buddies, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, chose not to participate at the king's table with the king's food. One, the food and the drink. This was not kosher. It was not ceremonially clean, the kind of food that he had been eating all of his life as a part of his faith and a part of his religious experience. So, it was non-kosher food. So that was one reason. But the bigger reason was this food, no doubt, the meat, the delicacies had been offered: wine and drink and food, to Babylonian idols. To the idols, to the godless deities, to the empty deities of the world. And that's where he said, "I can't do it. I won't do it, because I would be compromising the core of my convictions. My trust in the one true God. I would in effect be endorsing all these idols and these little gods of Babylon". He said, "I just won't do it".

Daniel was willing to go along with a secular education. He accepted his new world and surroundings. He learned a new language. He received this new name, but when it came to violating his conscience and his convictions, he said a firm, faithful no! He said no! He said this is a line that I will not cross. It was a clean cut, clear choice. He said, "I will not give up my faith and what I believe for anything or anyone. It may cost me my life, but so be it. I'm going to keep trusting and believing God". He made this hard and holy and heartfelt decision. It was from the heart, and that's the secret to decisions like these. Faith decisions. That they come from deep within. Not surface things, not superficial things but our faith is from deep within. This was a heart decision. He had a conviction. He had hidden God's word in his heart. He was alive to his faith and to his God. And you could change his name, you could change his circumstances, you could change his culture, his surroundings; you could change his literature, his reading, but you could not change Daniel's heart. You could not change his character. Daniel loved God way more than he loved the world. And he refused to go along just to get along. He refused to go along just to get ahead.

Now think of the excuses he could have concocted. Think of the temptations that Satan must have whispered in his ear. Things like, "Look, Daniel, if you drink this stuff and eat this food, nobody's going to know. Nobody back home's going to know. Everyone else is doing it". You know there were other Hebrews that had been transported and captive over there in Babylon. We've never heard of them. We know of these four young men who stood up, we know and remember their names but there were others that time has forgotten. We've all forgotten. We've never even heard of them. But yet everyone else was doing it. And Daniel could have said, "Well, you know I'm just going to be a part of the crowd". That's a big push, we say especially with young people, peer pressure. But there's a lot of peer pressure today on adults of all ages as well. But he could have just yielded, he could have cracked; he could have caved to the peer pressure. Or he could have excused this by saying, "Daniel, don't throw away your future. You've got a chance here if you'll just compromise just a little bit on this food and drink, you're going to rise to power, and you'll be a bigger light, a bolder light. You'll be able to maybe even save your people. Do what you need to do in order to get ahead".

Listen, you can always find an excuse if you're looking to disobey God. You can always find a way around the Word of God, if you're looking for it. But don't do that! Choose God's Word always over the world. Don't tell yourself lies. You know, an excuse is a rationalization. And you can even hear the word lies in rationalize. Rationale is an excuse wrapped in a lie. You can always find a way to compromise your faith if you're looking for it. The fact is, every one of us who are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are called to live extraordinary lives for Him, exemplary lives for Him. Different than the world. Separated from the world.

The Bible says "come out from among them and be separate". Come out from the world and the world system, and the way the world lives. Be different. It doesn't mean be isolated. We're never to be isolated or even insulated from the world, but we are to be separated from the world in the way we live our lives, because we can't make a difference for God until we are different. You can't make a difference until you are different. Come out and be separate. So this fearless young man, along with his three buddies, made a courageous decision, fearless decision to put their lives at risk. Because they knew their faith, with faith and trust in God regardless of the cost, and regardless of the consequences. That's courage, my friend. That's faith. To live your life for God, to please God, to honor God, no matter the cost and no matter the consequences. To do the right thing!

I told my children growing up, they heard it many times. It's always right to do what is right; it's never right to do wrong, it's never wrong to do right. It is always, always right to do what is right in the sight of God. You know what this is called? It's called something we have too little of in our culture and even in churches today. It's called conviction. And when you are fearless, when we trust and obey God, it means, here's what it means: it means that your heart belongs to Jesus, that your life doesn't belong to the world. Your life belongs to God.

I just want to challenge each one of us today to refuse to compromise with what the world is offering us today. Refuse to give in to the pressures and the pressure cooker of this culture. Romans 12 says, "Don't be conformed to this world". This is verse 2 of Romans 12: "Don't be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind". Don't allow Satan's schemes and strategies and the world's pressure to take you under. Do not love this world. Decide how you're going to live. And especially, I want to say to those of you who are young people, and even children, teenagers and even children, decide right now, while you're young, while you have an entire life to live, decide the way you're going to live your life and choose to live for God. Choose to live for Jesus! And decide to live your faith no matter what. Plan in advance what you're going to do. That's what Daniel did. He planned in advance. He made a decision; he made a resolve.

So as soon as you can, make decisions about things that you will do and things that you will not do. The time to make a decision is not in the white-hot heat of a battle ground but it is now. That you would prepare yourself, resolve, and ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen you as you make these decisions. Be smart! Don't give the devil a stick to hit you with. Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Not every hill on this earth is worth dying for, but some are. Pay the price for your character. Steady your convictions in God.

You say, "This was such a small thing. It was just a little thing. It was just food and drink". Yes, it was a little thing that became a very big thing in this man's life because it made a difference; it changed him, it shaped him. Had Daniel failed this faith test, you would have never heard of him. We would have never had the book of Daniel in our Bibles. We'd never have known him. He would have crumbled like everyone else. All these other Hebrews that were over there, we've never heard of them, but we know Daniel. Make up your mind because if you are a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ you ought to be able to say, "It's a small thing. It may be a little thing, but because I love Jesus, every ounce of me, every inch of me, every part of me, all of me belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ"!

Can you say that? Will you say that? Will you say "no" to sin and "yes" to Jesus? Will you say "no" to immorality and "yes" to purity? Will you say "no" to the culture, to the crowd and follow Jesus; say "yes" to Jesus? Will you say "no" to shacking up and hooking up and "yes" to a godly marriage and a holy family? Will you say "no" to the whispers of Satan and say "yes, yes, yes" to the whispers of the Holy Spirit? Will you say "no" to fear and say "yes" to faithfulness? Will you say "no" to compromise and "yes" to conviction? Will you say "no" to expedience and say "yes" to obedience? Will you say "no" to the culture and say "yes" to the cross, and pick up your cross and follow the Lord Jesus Christ? I'm going to ask that every head be bowed and every eye closed at this moment, wherever you are. This is a do or die decision. What will you do with Jesus? That's the most important decision you will ever make.

We have children watching right now online. The best time to give your life to Jesus is the first time you understand that you need Jesus in your life. That's what happened to me; I was a small child when I put my faith and trust in Christ, and He saved me. And I've never forgotten it. It's been a long time ago. It changed the rest of my life. It was a decision I made that made the rest of me. You may be a teenager, just starting out, a young person, you need Christ in your life. But regardless of your age or where you stand, you can make a decision for Christ. You may have even wasted many years, but it's never too late for a new beginning. And wherever you are right now, I'm going to ask that you bow your head and simply pray a prayer and make a decision for Jesus Christ. To invite Christ into your life. To pray:

Lord Jesus, I turn from my sin and my way, and I trust in You. I believe in You. I trust in You. That you died on the cross for my sins, that You rose again. Yes, I do believe, Lord Jesus. Come into my life.

Just ask Him. Make this decision. Say:

I decide by Your help, O God, to follow You.

God gives you this awesome choice. He'll not make you do it. "He stands at the door and knocks. If anyone hears His voice and opens the door, He will come in". He'll not tear the door down, He'll not burst into your life. He's inviting you to invite Him into your life. Will you do that right now? He's the Lord; He's the King. Invite Jesus into your life. If you're doing that, say:

Thank You, Lord. Thank You, Lord, for saving me, for forgiving me, changing my heart and making me your child.

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