1. Hello, listening friends, and welcome to this new series of broadcasts.
2. This new series is called “Standing Firm in a World of Shifting Sands,”
3. and it focuses on the Book of Daniel.
4. Everyone agrees that peer pressure is a powerful force in any society.
5. It is most prevalent, especially among young people;
6. but many adults fall victim to peer pressure also.
7. Very prominent social scientists have discovered the following facts:
8. seventy-five percent of students are more influenced by their peers than their parents.
9. On the other hand, 75 percent of parents believe that peer pressure is no real influence on their children.
10. That tells me that a lot of parents are completely ignorant about peer pressure.
11. Let me tell you three things about peer pressure.
12. First, there is neutral pressure that has no permanent good or bad effect on our lives.
13. Second, there is a positive peer pressure that brings out strength and draws out our good values;
14. and, third, there is negative peer pressure.
15. The only answer to negative peer pressure is to learn to say, “No.”
16. Say it firmly and say it often;
17. and, as you do that, you will grow to say it confidently.
18. Not only that, but the most important thing that you can do is for you to become the positive peer pressure on others.
19. Instead of being a pressure acceptor, you can become a pressure giver.
20. You can make it acceptable to be different;
21. and you will be amazed at how quickly others will follow you.
22. Today, I want to tell you about four young men.
23. These four young men decided to say, “No”;
24. and they became the positive peer pressure for others.
25. Those four young men became positive examples for the entire Babylonian Empire.
26. They became leaders, instead of followers.
27. How did this happen?
28. Around the year 605 BC,
29. after Israel refused God’s warning through the Prophet Jeremiah,
30. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invaded Israel.
31. He pillaged the country of its treasures and of its best people.
32. He took the brightest and the most intelligent into his own court.
33. Four of those were named Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
34. Now, if you have your Bible, turn with me to the Book of Daniel, Chapter 1, verses 1 to 16;
35. Now, listen as you hear the Word of God spoken.
36. Daniel 1:1-16.
37. These four men were like four candles lit up in the dark alley of Babylon,
38. like four stars in the bleak Babylonian skies.
39. Four young men in a hostile environment;
40. and, if they could prevail, so can you.
41. It is easy to be spiritual in the middle of a large group.
42. Who you really are shines through when you are in the middle of rowdy unbelievers.
43. Spiritual integrity does not need the protection of a safe environment to grow in;
44. but spiritual integrity grows best when it is exposed to the storms of snow and wind and hail.
45. Think of these four young men.
46. Their leader was a 14-year-old boy who was abducted from his home and family.
47. These four were taken to a strange land;
48. and, there, they became subject to subtle, but powerful, indoctrination;
49. and, yet, Daniel and his three friends purposed in their hearts to please God.
50. My listening friend, I want you to look with me at three things in Daniel, Chapter 1.
51. First, the prevailing circumstances.
52. Secondly, the pressure to compromise;
53. and, thirdly, the power of conviction.
54. Let’s look at number one, the prevailing circumstances.
55. King Nebuchadnezzar was ruthless, but he was also clever.
56. His method was to take the cream of the crop from every nation that he conquered and use them for his service.
57. He put these young minds into a sort of college program.
58. Daniel and his friends were obviously among the brightest and the smartest in the whole empire.
59. They were athletic and good-looking and intelligent.
60. Students at Nebuchadnezzar’s school had to be able to endure three years of grueling study.
61. They studied literature, mathematics, science, politics, history and geography;
62. so, these four guys, Daniel and his three friends, were among the privileged and the elite;
63. and, for such select few, there was a special menu that was loaded with rich food and wine.
64. Above all else, these students had to forget all thought of being servants of God.
65. They had to become servants of the mighty Nebuchadnezzar.
66. To help in this process of introduction, their names had to be changed.
68. In order that they would forget their identity.
69. Daniel, which means “God has judged,” was changed to “Belteshazzar,” which means “the keeper of the hidden treasure of the god of Baal”.
70. Hananiah, which means, “Jehovah has been gracious,” became “Shadrach,” which is a part of the name of the pagan deity, Marduk.
71. Mishael, which means, “who is like God?” became “Meshach,” which is the ancient name of Venus;
72. and Azariah, which means, “Jehovah has helped,” became “Abednego,” which means “the servant of Nebo.”
73. The new culture was telling them, “Forget your faith.”
74. These were their circumstances.
75. The question is, “Would they capitulate?”
76. Secondly, we see the pressure to compromise in verses 8 to 16.
77. The devil will always begin by surrounding you with circumstances that are designed to make you forget biblical truth;
78. then, he will tempt you;
79. then, he will pressure you to compromise.
80. The reason why the Israelites were taken into captivity in the first place was because they had been a nation of compromisers.
81. They had become idolaters;
82. and, so, these four boys found themselves among the elite of this pagan culture.
83. While most of their fellow Hebrews were already knee-deep in compromise and apostasy, these Hebrew boys stood firm and would not compromise.
84. As these four boys looked around, they saw that everyone in their community was eating and drinking from the King’s kitchen;
85. and Daniel and his friends could not do that and sin toward God.
86. Some of you may say, “But isn’t that silly to refuse to eat the King’s food?
87. Did they have to stick to food that is legal?”
88. Actually, this food has nothing to do with the legal food.
89. The reason they refused to eat from the King’s table was because that food had been offered to idols before it was served.
90. Someone may say, “Why make such a fuss about small issues, such as eating food offered to idols?
91. Think of how influential you will be in the King’s palace.
92. Take advantage of the situation…”
93. but Daniel’s response was, “No.
94. It may cost me my life, but I will keep my eternal life.”
95. Daniel, being the intelligent and gifted man that he was, objected without being objectionable.
96. He politely asked the boss to release him from the obligation of eating such food.
97. Jesus said, “When you are faithful with little, you’ll be faithful with much;”
98. and, because Daniel would not compromise with little things as a young man of fourteen, sixty years later, he would not compromise with the big things.
99. The prevailing circumstances.
100. The pressure to compromise;
1. thirdly, the power of conviction.
2. If you look at verses 17 to 21,
3. you will find that, when you honor God, God will honor you.
4. When you put God first, He will deliver you.
5. When you refuse to compromise, He will stand with you.
6. Daniel and his three friends finished their three-year course; and, now, it was time for final exams.
7. In those days, the exams were not written exams. They were oral exams.
8. They had to appear before the King, himself, who personally examined each one of the candidates;
9. and the King’s assessment of Daniel, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego is recorded in verses 19 to 20.
10. They were the best of the best.
11. They were better than all of their graduating class and the whole school;
12. but that was not all.
13. They were given the top jobs in the King’s court.
14. In fact, Daniel remained in the second highest position in the land for 70 years;
15. and, so, my friend, I want to tell you as I conclude,
16. that, when you refuse to compromise on little things,
17. when you honor the Lord with all you are,
18. then watch and see how He will honor you.
19. Let me share a verse with you that I hope that you will memorize.
20. It is in 1 Samuel, Chapter 2, verse 30.
21. “‘Those who honor Me, I will honor,’ says the Lord.”
22. That is the promise of God,
23. and He never reneges on His promises.
24. Until next time, I wish you God’s richest blessing.