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Summary: Excellence is achieved through dedication and practice. It will not be easy. It may not always be fun. But it will always pay off.

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“Daring, Yet Not Defiant”

Daniel 1:8-20

(Second in the series Dare to be a Daniel)

Introduction: As the years progress, conflicting cultural values increasingly surround and challenge the Christian lifestyle.

While Secretary of State during the Regan presidency, George Shultz kept a large globe in his office. When newly appointed ambassadors had an interview with him and when ambassadors returning from their posts for their first visit with him were leaving his office, Shultz would test them. He would say, "You have to go over the globe and prove to me that you can identify your country." They would go over, spin the globe, and put their finger on the country to which sent--unerringly. When Shultz’s old friend and former Senate majority leader Mike Mansfield was appointed ambassador to Japan, even he was put to the test. This time, however, Ambassador Mansfield spun the globe and put his hand on the United States. He said: "That’s my country." On June 27, 1993, Shultz related this to Brian Lamb on C-Span’s "Booknotes." Said the secretary: "I’ve told that story, subsequently, to all the ambassadors going out. ’Never forget you’re over there in that country, but your country is the United States. You’re there to represent us. Take care of our interests and never forget it, and you’re representing the best country in the world.’ "

We must never forget where our home and our allegiance is – Heaven. Daniel worked in a land that was hostile to the faith he held. His bosses were some of the most powerful, most ruthless, and egotistical kings in all ancient history. To contradict these men could mean death. The book of Daniel is a record of the many times Daniel’s faith placed him in inconvenient and uncomfortable circumstances where the odds were the highest. It was this atmosphere that Daniel stood firm with a “Non-negotiable Faith”. He knew what it meant to have his faith put him in some inconvenient places (Introduction taken from Derrick Strickland’s sermon “A Non-Negotiable Faith” on SermonCentral.com).

Proposition: Even when living in a hostile atmosphere, we like Daniel need to stand firm, pursuing excellence with a “non-negotiable” faith.

1. Abide by principles, verse 8

He would not eat the king’s food.

Why take such a risky stand over something as seemingly trivial as food?

He had to study their literature

He lost his given name, which referred to God to receive one that honored a Babylonian idol. Why take issue over food?

Old Testament law spelled out diet restrictions.

Many decisions we make are matters of choice, custom, or personal preference.

But where God speaks clearly and specifically, there is no room for negotiation.

Daniel could have made excuses.

He was a prisoner of war

The king was generous offering his best—it would be dangerous to refuse him

He was so far from his family…who would even notice?

Daniel chose instead to do what he knew God wanted him to do.

He drew the line of obedience on the safe side, and he knew he would have to embrace the consequences of his decision.

2. Approach authority with tact, verses 9-16

This was not a simple rebellion.

He did not sit in protest or grumble about his predicament.

He resolved not to defile himself, & had such confidence in God that he asked the chief official for help.

There are three sources of light:

Light from within. Do you feel guilty or uneasy about the activity you’re involved in? You can usually trust your conscience to signal you when you feel guilty. Although you can’t always trust your mind – as someone has said, “The neurotic builds castles in the sky, the psychotic lives in them and the psychiatrist collects the rent.”

Light from without. You can get excellent counsel for godly Christians. Proverbs 11:14, “Where no counsel is the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”

Light from above. The best source is light from above, James 1:5 says: “If anyone lack wisdom let the person ask of God.”

In the lives of Daniel and his three friends you can see young people that stayed true to their convictions. They did not believe in being politically correct. They went against the accepted culture of their day. They resolved not to defile themselves. They refused to accept the Babylonian identity. You will note that Daniel always referred to himself as Daniel and not as the Belteshazzar, the Babylonian name given to him.

God honored Daniel’s determination.

He worked on the heart of the man in charge of the students.

If there was evidence of a sudden loss of strength or weight, he would have to give an accounting to the king.

Daniel proposed a 10-day test.

He & his 3 friends passed the trial with flying colors!

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