Summary: Here is a motivational message that will drive home the point that pursuing excellence is not always fun, and may not bring instant results. However, the end result (if found in Christ) is worth more than gold.
The proof of your DESIRE is in your PURSUIT!
Four theorems from the text
1. The pursuit of excellence will most always seem foreign to those on the OUTSIDE looking IN!
(See Dan. 1:10 and 3:14)
In 1:10 - The official didn’t understand why Daniel would not eat the royal food. He thought that Daniel’s health would decline if Daniel chose not to eat the choice meats. Yet God had other plans.
In 3:14 - Nebuchadnezzar, for some odd reason, couldn’t believe that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow before his image. Yet 3 young men stay true to their calling (Even in the face of death) and God’s protects them.
****Share a personal story of a time when other thought you strange because of a descison you made. (I shared a story here about how I race mountian bikes, and when I’m training for a race, I would often turn down offers to do something really fun with my friends so that I can put in extra time on the bike. It must, at times, seem totally foriegn to my friends that I would give up so much fun for a race. However, those times of training pay off %80 of the time. Last year I finished the series in 2nd place out of about 160 riders.)****
2. Excellence will never ever COMPROMISE!
(See Dan. 1:8 and 3:17-18)
In 1:8 - Daniel chooses not to defile himself and stay true to his faith.
In 3:17-18 - I LOVE this response! "Even if he (God) does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold that you have set up." Talk about no compromise.
****Share a story of a time you either failed or held a descison/conviction. Share how it cost you or helped you. (I use alot of personal sports stories because everyone in my church knows that I’m a avid partaker of almost any sport, mountain biking being, by far, my strongest).****
3. Excellence may be COSTLY!
(See Dan. 3:19-20)
In 3:19-20 - It looked like it was over for these 3 young God-fearing men. It looked like the game was over. There WILL be many times in your life where your faith will be costly. It may sometime coast only a little. But there WILL be time where you faith may cost you alot.
****Share a story of a time where your faith cost you.****
4. Excellence will PAY off in the long run!
(See Dan. 1:15, 18-19 and 3:25, 28-29)
In 1:15, 18-19 - Daniel and his buddies looked better that all the other people in this little babylonian school. Because of this, the official put everyone on this strict diet. Their faith held strong and God blessed them for their excellence.
In 3:25, 28-29 - How awesome s this passage? "I see 4 men loose, and one of them looks like a son of gods". Here this king is now so convinced of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s faith that he makes a decree that everyone must worship their God.
****Share a story of a time when others saw and possibly reaped the rewards of your firm convictions.****
No one is BORN great. You BECOME what you are
Excellence is achieved through dedication and practice. How does that apply to our faith? Read your Bible...alot. Pray...alot. Hold true to the things you believe...always. It will not be easy. It may not always be fun. But, it will ALWAYS pay off!