Summary: This sermon stresses why we should choose to inspire others to Christ. This is more than an outline but it is not the full text.

Why Choose to Inspire

Scripture Text: Daniel 1-3

August 28, 2011 Thomas A. Gaskill

Today there are many people:

doubtful of the existence of God

confused about the true God

blinded by the ways of the world

surrounded with despair in the world

The top 10 addictions verify these statements:

Alcohol, smoking, drugs, gambling, food, video games, internet, sexual, shopping, work

People succumb to these addictions in search of peace and fulfillment; but fail to realize either one. It is a sad, circular, dangerous, and harmful plight. These loved ones are searching for freedom, but are becoming more enslaved.

Listen to some of these statistics found online:

In the U.S. the number of smokers is about one in five adults.

Every year, tobacco use kills more Americans than World War II and the Vietnam War combined. Tobacco related illnesses kill 440,000 US citizens per year.

Many diseases are linked to tobacco and nicotine: cardiovascular disease, stroke, lung cancer, cancer of the kidney, cancer of the larynx and neck, mouth cancer and breast cancer

Approximately 70% of smokers want to quit. About 40% try to quit every year.

About one in five high school students smoke.

About half of those who start smoking as an adolescent will continue to smoke for the next 15 to 20 years.

The cigarette industry spends about 34 million dollars a day on advertising and promotion (2006).

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 64% of Americans drink alcohol, with 50% ‘regular drinkers’.

The consequences of this are 22,073 alcohol caused deaths a year (2006) – these are deaths unrelated to accidents, suicides or homicides. About half of these deaths are from liver disease from alcoholism.

Preliminary data for 2009 from the CDC shows the highest percentage in a decade measured for adults who have consumed more than 5 drinks a day (23%). This may reflect the economic downturn.

Males lead females in consumption, and the highest use occurs in the 18 to 24 year-old group.

Alcohol is a poison; it can kill either by way of long-term damage, or acutely. In the acute poisoning, alcohol alone can be fatal, or it can kill when combined with other drugs.

One disturbing trend is that the number of women arrested has increased 30% since 1998, although men still account for the majority of arrests (six to one).

Problem gambling and suicide

One of the scariest statistics is reported by the Oklahoma Association for Gambling Addiction Awareness: “A survey of Gamblers Anonymous members in the United States found that 48 percent had considered suicide and 13 percent had attempted it.”

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that by age 18, almost 12% of all young people are illicit drug users. And they go on to state, it is generally accepted that chemical dependency, along with associated mental health disorders, has become one of the most severe health and social problems facing the US.

All this shared for an increased awareness of the necessity, as God’s people, to be inspiring.

I have never seen advertisements of Jesus with a cigarette hanging out of His mouth or at a casino gambling away His drachmas! It would be appalling to see such an advertisement and it most certainly would not be inspiring. Jesus came to give fullness of life to His followers – not cancer sticks! Jesus never squandered His money in hopes of getting more – He continually gave to the poor. The more He gave, the more He had available to give!

Things are not well with our society. Our society is hurting; there is a lost and dying world out there in need of inspiration – but not just any kind of inspiration, it must be inspiration that reveals that God exists, that reveals the true God, that witnesses against the corrupt ways of the world, and gives hope for the despairing. People must be inspired to a better way of life! We Christians know this better way of life!

Romans 15:4 “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” It was written to inspire us.

The Book of Daniel records four men who chose to be inspiring. It was their steadfast love for God that made them inspiring.

Historical setting:

The people of Israel had turned their backs on God and chose to disregard the prophetic voices sent by God. Their land was conquered and they were taken captive to a foreign land. Babylon was a pagan land filled with idolatry and the occult.

Daniel (Belteshazzar), Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abed-Nego).

Chosen to be educated for service in the king’s palace.

Refused ceremonially unclean foods from the royal table; didn’t want to defile themselves with unclean foods or meats that had been sacrificed to idols. Refused wine so that they could remain of sober mind and consecrated entirely to God.

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