Summary: How to start the New Year - 2016

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The New Year is Aglow with Opportunities

Daniel 1:1-7: 3:1-18; 6:1-22

We have now completed one month in the year 2016 and we are faced with many challenges and opportunities. As a Christian we are rowing upstream against a society that is basically anti-Christian. We are also living in a period where many churches are turning liberal in their theology and where commitment and dedication are hard to find qualities and where a faithful and dedicated Christian is a dying breed. In addition we have developed a " tourist mindset" in our practice of our christianity. We hop to see the latest christian personality (with the " anointing") or investigate the latest "blessings". Tourists want only the high points and they want entertainment. A christian cannot come to maturity this way.

Many things about the future are both exciting and fearful. No matter what we face in the unpredictable 2016, as cultural, political and spiritual changes approach us a high speed, few of us will experience the intense, painful opportunities that a man named Daniel faced. Though this story is 2,500 years old, the message is as contemporary as today’s headlines. In every crisis and trauma Daniel faced God used him for good in the world.

What do we know about Daniel?

A contemporary of Jeremiah and his fellow exile Ezekiel, Daniel (lit. ―God is my Judge‖) is unquestionably the author of the book which bears his name. Ezekiel refers to Daniel (cf. Ezek 14:14, 20; 28:3.)

Daniel and his three compatriots, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, were forced into exile in 605 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar descended for the first time upon Jehoiakim‘s kingdom of Judah. Daniel was of the royal seed.

We can see that Daniel was a well-rounded young man. He not only was smart he was healthy and physically fit. We also can see that Daniel and his friends had godly parents who gave them a good grounding in the Word of God.

Also Daniel had a high social standing. He was a relative of the king of Judah, raised with all the privileges and status of royalty: wealth, power and education. He probably had close connections with dignitaries throughout the Eastern Mediterranean world. With all his wealth and charm Daniel was every mother-in-law’s dream.

Yet with his privileges Daniel was not proud or arrogant. He was a young man of character. He was not lazy or self-indulgent. He was absolutely committed to God and refused to compromise himself in any area.

Daniel was also was a young man with a future. He would have been voted the most likely to succeed in his class.

But Daniel was caught in a system and culture that forgot God. The exile did not come overnight. It was due to a long period of rebellion against God's revealed will for Israel. Daniel was caught in a culture that ignored God. When a nation forgets God, everyone suffers : the righteous along with the unrighteous.

God repeatedly sent prophets to warn the people of Israel but they continued to rebel and live in sin. In 605BC God allowed the superpower of that day, Nebuchadnezaar and his Babylonian armies to attack Jerusalem and take over the city.

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