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Character Forged in the Fire - Part 1

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  • There is a traditional saying: "Sow a thought, reap an action, sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny."
  • Character is defined as the attributes that make up and distinguish an individual. I want us to spend some time looking at character in the life of Daniel. If your character is what God wants, then you are not effective as a Christian.
  • I want us to spend some time looking at Daniel and see how his character changed the world! Are you ready, are you in a position to change your world if that's what God desired?

Read daniel 1.1-21

  • Historical information: Nebuchadnezzer king of Babylon - exiles the Jews to Babylon where they are going to be for 70 years (Jeremiah). Yet Nebuchadnezzar decides to keep some of the able to be part of his court, if they are trained they can become loyal servants who are a part of that culture. He sees the benefit in this.
  • So he chooses 4 Hebrew young men (around 18); Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah. He changes their names from Hebrew names to Babylonian or Chaldean names: Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
  • After 3 years of training they would be put into service of the king, our story this morning takes place at a point in that three year training. So we see character being forged from the beginning. How would Daniel respond to even the smallest thing?
  • Be asking yourself this question this morning - How do you respond to even the small things? I tell you this morning Daniel didn't have the New Testament but he understood well the principle of Luke 19:17, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities."
  • So how should you respond in the small things? How should you begin to develop character, grow your character, develop your character? Let's see how Daniel did it.

He Came to a Conclusion (8)

  • Notice how we are dealing with a small matter - a diet, what to eat, what not to eat.
  • The Jews had Kosher laws, and at this point in history it's such a small matter. They have been defeated, thrown into exile and these 4 young men are in training to be Babylonians.
  • Yet Daniel makes a decision and comes to a conclusion
  • "I will not defile myself with the royal food and wine."
  • The conlusion that Daniel came to was obedience to God's commands despite the cultural influences upon him.
  • What cultural influences are working on you? Are you being asked to compromise your character at work? at school? Is a little voice inside your head telling you that the little things don't matter? Your character will show who you truly are. Have you come to the conclusion in your life that you are going to listen, serve, and obey God even in the smallest detail?

He Considered the Culture (9)

  • Even though Daniel had already proven himself in God's eyes, he resolved. That wasn't enough, he needed to put something into action. We can't be all talk, we have to be action too. So he goes to the chief official and tells him, and the Bible says, he asked for permission not to defile himself. What a question:
  • May I have your permission not to partake in your customs that I feel are defyling to a person (inappropriate, wrong, etc). What did he expect as an answer? Or maybe a better question, what would he have done if the answer wasn't favorable? It's all about character.
  • I think Daniel wasn't asking for permission to receive the go-ahead, I think Daniel was asking for permission more to say, this is where I am coming from, and I hope you can respect. I think Daniel would have been faithful even if the chief official said "no". He does this later.
  • I think also, Daniel wanted them to see that the outcome and result of an obedient life to God was far more beneficial and rewarding than a life outside of him.
  • He considered the culture and wanted to include them in glorifying God.
  • Are you considering the culture you live in? Or is your christianity your own personal decision? If you are not including others in your following Christ, your character isn't worth much. You would rather hide the fact you are a Christian than try to impact people for His glory!
  • Now let me make a very strong distinction here. When I say you hide your Christianity i'm not talking about your religion. We are quick to say where we go to church, in fact it's usually a topic of conversation. That's part of the culture. But those same people who proudly say where they go to church hide their Christianity in integrity choices, lifestyle choices, sin issues. The bar on Saturday night is filled with people talking about where they are going to church the next day. If your Christian life is defined by where you go to church and not who you are in Christ, then you have a serious character flaw. You fail when it comes to integrity. You may think it's okay, but God does not honor, nor does He want that from you. He wants people of character, who consider the culture they live in and bring them to the foot of the cross. Is that you?

The Consequence of Character (16-18)

  • Look at what happens because of the choice of Daniel.
  • The other servants in training were blessed.
            • When you decide to live with character those around you can't help be blessed and can't help but see God. Why wouldn't we want that for everyone we come in contact with?
  • The four Hebrew men were greatly blessed.
            • He took the gifts and abilities they already had and increased them even more. All the men in this training program were gifted how? Verse 4. Yet when Daniel and his friends show proven character they are increased in their abilities and they receive even more: able to understand dreams and visions. That's going to be important later.
            • God has gifted you in some way, and let me add singing and musical ability is not a spiritual gift listed in the Bible, too often that's what we think of when we think of Spiritual gifting. But God has given you an ability, a listening ear, a loving heart, a gift for service, whatever the case may be when you are a person of Character God will increase that and then He'll add more. If God's not working through you, you really need to consider your Character.
  • A secular authority was blessed / Or Daniel potential enemy saw God
            • Now this will have to be fleshed out in our time discussing Daniel, but look at v. 21, for 46 years Daniel and his friends are there pointing Nebechednezzar to God, and his reign is successful on and off because of Daniel's character. It is disciplined when need be because of Daniel's character.
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