Stand: Stories of Courage

Introduction:
When we are pushed to the limit, we have a choice to make. Will we choose the path of least resistance or will we have the courage to take a stand? In this four-week series, we will unpack five compelling stories from the book of Daniel. We will cover points in his life when he is first taken into captivity as a boy, to his long night in a lion’s den, to his three best friends being thrown into a fiery furnace. These stories of courage will reveal how Daniel and his friends learned to stand out, stand up, stand strong, stand in faith, and stand together for God. They will also teach us how we can do the same in our generation.

Something To Talk About:
Are you standing for the right things, at the right timing and in the right way?

Background: In Daniel, chapter 1, we learn about Daniel being transported from Judah to Babylon where it is a totally different culture and who worship a different god. The Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, wanted to persuade or proselytize Daniel into becoming a Babylonian. He gave him a Babylonian education, he gave him a Babylonian diet, and he even wanted to give him a Babylonian name – Belteshazzar. And if you were Daniel, wouldn’t it be tempting just to follow along? Why do you want to stand up against the king who might just kill you? After all, the king wanted converts not conflict. And he has the power to do whatever he wants. It would have been so easy to become at least a little Babylonian. And it would have been equally easy coming up with any number of excuses that would soothe his conscience. For example, he could say, “everybody else is adapting, why should I be different.” But Daniel did not adapt to the culture, and he didn’t compromise his beliefs.

Application: In chapter 1 in verse 8, the Bible tells us: “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.” Daniel draws a line in the sand to remain loyal to God. Culture is asking each of us who are followers of God to compromise, to fit in, to draw a line, but be willing to move it to keep in step with today’s culture. And it would be easy to rationalize why it makes sense to make a few compromises, move the line a little bit. While obviously we are not in captivity, following Jesus in this world is not an easy thing, just as Daniel living for God in Babylon was not an easy thing. We need to have the resolve in our heart to live for God for the right things, at the right time and in the right way.

Questions:
1. When have you taken a Christian stand in a non-Christian setting?
2. How do you think Daniel felt as he became steeped in Babylonian culture?
3. In what ways do your Christian beliefs clash with the culture around you? In what ways do your Christian beliefs affect your view of people of other cultures?
4. In verse 15, the Bible says, “At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king.” Do you think Daniel was healthier and better nourished because of something supernatural, or because he consumed what was better for him?
5. Pray for the areas in your life where you sense you are being ruled by our present culture. Ask God to give you the resolve to take a stand in those areas that you need to.

Take One Thing Home With You:
Most of us have used the expression “being between a rock and a hard place.” That is an appropriate description for Daniel Chapter 1. We live in a world that’s much like Daniel’s, where culture is trying to train our minds to think, behave, and believe like the rest of the world. It trains us to lower our standards.

The world calls you to blend in. Daniel and his friends could have blended in with the rest of the young Israelites, but if they had done so, nothing historic would have happened. God can and will use you like Daniel, but only if you take a stand and stand out from the rest of the world. Those who have the courage to stand out inspire others.

So what do you stand for? In today’s culture it seems more people stand for the wrong things than those that stand for what God says is right. What standards are you using to measure your actions? Are you using God’s standards or the world’s? When you use the standards of the world as your sliding scale to measure your actions, you’ll often find yourself doing things you shouldn’t, and justifying your actions. Take an extensive inventory of your actions today and see what you really stand for. If you were to be measured by God rather than the world, how would you be rated?