Summary: We live in a world starving for godly character. Daniel is a young man with an abundance of it!
1. Illustration of Gerald Ford.
• Gerald Ford died recently. He has the dubious honor of being the only vice president, and later president, who was never elected to those offices by the people.
• Over and over, those who have spoken of him have mentioned his character and his integrity.
• That’s not a bad epitaph is it?
2. Character! We live in a world that is starving for men and women who have godly character. There is a shortage of it in our country, and our churches, and our homes. And do you know what? God is all about character. He desires that we develop godly character.
3. I want to introduce you to a young man named Daniel who is loaded with godly character. For almost 5 centuries Israel had been disobedient to God. As a result God had allowed them to be taken into a captivity that would last for 70 years. Daniel was probably in his older teenage years when this occurred. So here he was, not even out of his teen years, uprooted, and living in a foreign land that was totally strange to him. But in this context, Daniel’s character shone brightly.
4. Textual idea: Daniel is a perfect example of what godly character is all about. If we look at his life, there are some very important lessons about godly character that we will learn.
5. What are these lessons? There are three of them.
Lesson 1: Godly character often begins in the home
1. See verses 6-7. The first thing the King did was to change their names. You see their old names had godly meanings. Daniel = "God is my judge." Hananiah = "Jehovah is gracious." Mishael = "who is like God?" Azariah = "The Lord helps." Of course the King, wanting to indoctrinate them into this new society, gave them new names that referred to his pagan gods.
2. But here’s my point. These four young men had obviously been raised up in homes that were devoted and dedicated to God. Otherwise, they would not have been given these names that honored and exalted God.
3. Principle: godly character is often molded and formed in the home.
4. Illustration of my daddy
• Always ate catsup on his eggs.
• When I got big enough to eat eggs way I wanted to, automatically put catsup on them. Just assumed that way the way it was supposed to be!
• Same way with godliness. If that is what you see modeled, you will just assume that is the way it is supposed to be!
• You may decide (most do) "I want to try what the world has to offer" but that influence and example will always be there!
5. See 2 Timothy 1:5. A godly heritage is powerful thing!
6. Application: I think there’s a great word of warning here for all parents. We need to be so careful to live a godly life in front of our children. And I’m not just talking about going to church on Sunday. When we are safely tucked away behind the four walls of our home, do we model Jesus Christ? Do we talk like Jesus, or do we cuss, slander, gossip? Do we act like Jesus, or do we act more like the devil? Do you have attitudes that would please Jesus? Those aren’t just hypothetical questions. Those little ones are soaking up everything we do and say!
7. Godly character often begins in the home.
Lesson 2: godly character springs from the Scripture
1. See verse 8. Two times in this verse the phrase, "defile himself" is used. Why didn’t Daniel want to eat the King’s food? Because it would have violated the Law of Moses. God had given Israel very specific dietary laws to follow. The king’s delicacies would not have been kosher. Daniel didn’t want to eat the King’s delicacies because he wanted to be obedient to the will of God as revealed in Scripture.
2. Principle: godly character means making daily decisions based on the Scripture.
3. Illustration of my 4 year old grandaughter and puzzles
• Fascinated by puzzles.
• Will put box top so she can see it, uses it as a guide for putting puzzle together.
• Sometimes has to try two or three pieces that are close before she finds the right one, but she eventually does.
• That is the way with godly character. We will use the scripture as our guide to putting all the pieces of life together. May not get it exactly right the first time, but will eventually figure out what God wants in these areas of our life.
4. Notice something about Daniel’s decision. On the one hand, Daniel and his friends strenuously object to this diet that king wants to put them on. On the other hand, they don’t object at all when they are given pagan names based on pagan gods. What’s the difference? God’s Word prohibited the eating of unclean food, but it didn’t say anything about the giving of pagan names! We need to be sure to stand on the Scripture, but we must be careful not to make the Scripture say more than it actually does!