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Staying Cool When Things Get Hot: How Do You Act When You Think No One's Looking?

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
July 23, 2021 3:00 am

Staying Cool When Things Get Hot: How Do You Act When You Think No One's Looking?

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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July 23, 2021 3:00 am

Let’s be honest, we all like getting a nod of approval when we’ve done the right thing, don’t we? And then, when we’ve messed up, we hope everyone was looking the other way.

But today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out people of integrity do good even without getting credit, and avoid the bad even when they wouldn’t be blamed. We’ll see some tremendous examples of that today as Pastor Greg introduces us to four young men from our Scripture text. We’re in Daniel, chapter 1.

View and subscribe to Pastor Greg’s weekly notes.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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You're listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God.

Visit our website and learn more about Harvest Partners at harvest.org. Why don't you go and commit certain sins? Is it because you're afraid of the repercussions? Okay, that's a deterrent.

I have a better one. Because you love the Lord and you would not want to do anything that would bring shame to His name. Let's be honest. We all like getting a nod of approval when we've done the right thing, don't we?

And then when we've messed up, we hope everyone was looking the other way. But today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out people of integrity do good even without getting credit and avoid the bad even when they wouldn't be blamed. We'll see some tremendous examples of that today as Pastor Greg introduces us to four young men from our Scripture text. We're in Daniel chapter 1. You know it's been said, Christians are a lot like tea bags.

You don't know what they're made of until you put them in hot water. Are you in the hot water of trial right now? Or are you in the hot water of temptation?

Well first of all I want to say don't freak out because you're not alone. It's actually a confirmation that you as a Christian are on the right track. 1 Peter 4.12 Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you're going through as if something strange were happening to you.

Be happy if you're insulted for being a Christian for then the glorious Spirit of God will come upon you. Listen. It's strange if you're not going through a trial. It's strange if you're not being tempted. If you are going through trials, if you are being tempted is effectively the norm of the Christian life. And by the way it's not a sin to be tempted.

I think we forget that sometimes. Because temptation comes at the worst times doesn't it? Have you ever had a bad thought come to you in church? And you're thinking how could I be tempted in church? Well the devil is going to hit you whenever he wants to effectively hit you. But the sin of temptation is not in the bait. It's in the bite.

If you see it for what it is and you reject it and you resist it. No harm. No foul. Temptation came knocking. You said no.

Done deal. But if you bring it inside of your mind that's where the problems begin. It's been said you can't stop a bird from flying over your head. But you can stop him from building a nest in your hair.

Ok. Now in my case there's not a lot to work with. That bird would have to bring his own materials. But you get the idea of what that saying means. The temptation flies over.

It's when you bring it inside. And to the point even Jesus Christ himself was tempted in the wilderness. So anyone can be. And if you're a follower of Christ you will be tempted. Now let me add something else to that.

If you would say to me, I can't remember the last time I was tempted, then you are either dead or worthless. I think I would say some people are right where the devil wants them. He has marginalized them. He has neutralized them. He would say, why waste time on them? I am going after that man of God that is starting to read his Bible every day and take his faith seriously. I am going after that godly woman that is actually engaging people with the message of the gospel.

Those people are trouble and I have got to stop them. So he is going to come with his temptations to those people. Well it's the hot water of temptation. Now here before us is a story of three young men that were in a real fiery trial.

I am talking about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. It is a story of how they stood up for what was right even at the risk of losing their own lives because they were prepared ahead of time. Know this. Hardship, calamity, and tragedy, the loss of a loved one is going to come your way one day. And trials and temptations and testings will come too. So take steps now to be prepared then.

Listen. There is going to come a time when your faith is going to be tested. When people are going to challenge what you believe.

When temptations are going to come in your direction trying to pull you in the wrong way. And so the question you might ask is will I be able to stand when the day of testing comes. Will I be able to resist when the time of temptation comes.

My answer may surprise you. That is entirely up to you. Say no it is up to God.

No actually it is up to you. God will give you the strength to resist the temptation. God will give you the power to get through the trial. But He won't do it for you. You see there are some things only God can do.

And there are some things only I can do. Only God can forgive sin. Only I can repent of my sin. God won't repent for me.

I have to do that. And in the same way only God can get you through your hardship. But only you can take hold of His promises and believe Him. So if you want to know if you are going to make it in that day of testing you need to start thinking about it right now. The stand you make today will determine what kind of stand you will make tomorrow. The end of your life is determined by the beginning of it.

The evening is determined by the morning. It is not unlike building a house. The most important time when you build a house is not when you hang pictures on the wall. Or when you lay your carpet down.

Or when you landscape it. Those are the fun parts. The most important time when you build a house is in the wiring, the electrical, and the plumbing. And having your foundation done properly. Because if you mess that up everything else doesn't matter. The same is true of life. The most important time is in the beginning. When you are laying the foundation and if you don't get that right everything else is of no consequence. Because when it is all said and done character counts. In fact it is the most important thing in a person's life. Not just what you think you are or what other people think you are but what you really are. It comes down to this.

When you are all alone, when no one is looking, when there is no one to impress, that is who you are. The measure of a man's real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out. Why don't you go and commit certain sins? Is it because you are afraid of the repercussions?

Why don't you go rob that bank? Think of all the money you would have. Well you don't do it because well I would be caught, I would be arrested. Or do you say well I wouldn't do that because that is a sin and that is a wrong thing to do. Why don't you go and have that affair?

Well my wife would literally kill me if I did. That is why. Ok that is a deterrent.

I have a better one. Because you love the Lord and he would not want to do anything that would bring shame to his name. And he would not want to disgrace your family and hurt your fellow Christian friends and so forth. But the idea is why don't you do those things if you have real character.

That is where it all starts you see. The real measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out. What if you knew you could get away with it?

Would you do it then? That is a lack of character. Listen the stand you make today will determine what kind of stand you will make tomorrow. You decide what principles you are going to live by.

You are going to decide what road you are going to take. Well the Bible is a very honest book isn't it? And it tells us the truth about our heroes and our villains. If a hero messed up the Bible tells us that. We have people that started well and self-destructive like Saul and Samson. We have other people that started well but messed up toward the end of their lives like Gideon or Noah or even Moses. We have other people that had character from beginning to end and did well throughout their lives like Joseph and Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. But a lot of times when we want to tell our own story we want to airbrush out those flaws and inconsistencies. But the Bible does not do that. When Oliver Cromwell had his portrait painted he said to the artist, Paint me warts and all. And the Bible gives us its heroes and its villains warts and all. Well here is a story of four young men that didn't seem to have any warts if you will.

I can't really find any deficiencies or flaws to speak of. I am talking about Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were ready for the big stuff later in life because they made a stand in a relatively small area. When we think of Daniel our mind usually races to Daniel and the... That's right. You got it. Daniel and the lion's den. And we think of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. We think primarily of the fiery furnace.

But the strength to make the stand in that day came from a stand they made in a much smaller area that we will look at in a moment. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. It's a joy to hear when these studies have truly impacted lives.

Listen to these comments from one of our listeners. Hi Pastor Greg. In the last year because of the pandemic I was furloughed from a job that I was absolutely passionate about. I work at a university as a coach with young adults who have very little knowledge of God. Yet I was not doing what God wanted me to do. I was just going through the motions of being a Christian and not utilizing the position God put me in. I've been a Christian most of my life, but this has been a very lonely year.

And I know that it's because I have strayed from God. But because of your lessons on the radio, I finally received the wake-up call I needed. And I'm getting back into reading the Bible and devoting my life to Jesus. Thank you Pastor Greg for your passion and wisdom. I've been rejuvenated as a Christian and I look forward to listening to more of your lessons. It's a blessing to know that listeners are hearing these messages and God is using His word to touch hearts. How have Pastor Greg's studies impacted your life?

Would you let him know? Drop an email to Greg at Harvest dot org. That's Greg at Harvest dot o-r-g. Well today we're considering the importance of integrity as we highlight the examples of some remarkable men of God in the Old Testament.

Here's Pastor Greg once again. So here are Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego living in Babylon. Now how did four good Jewish boys end up in a place like that? Well God had warned Israel to stop turning to idols and false gods. But Israel did it again and again. And the Lord said, if you don't turn from these false gods I'm going to send you into captivity for 70 years.

But they continued to worship the false gods. Then the Lord got specific and He said through Jeremiah in chapter 25 verse 8, Thus says the Lord God, because you have not listened to me, I am going to gather together all the armies of the north under King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon whom I have appointed as my deputy. I am going to bring him against this land and its people and against the other nations near you. So God is saying, now listen. If you don't stop worshiping idols I'm going to bring Babylon led by Nebuchadnezzar.

So that was very specific. And I find it interesting that God referred to Nebuchadnezzar as His deputy. And yet here was a godless man in charge of a godless nation that was going to take a godly nation into captivity if they did not repent.

Yet they ignored God's warning and the Lord did exactly what He said He would do. I think about our own country. At one time I think you could say America was comparatively speaking a godly nation. I think you could say at one time in America we reveled in those Judeo-Christian values that gave us the liberty we all enjoy so freely.

But today in the United States things are different. Now there is a hostility in our culture toward the person that believes what the Bible teaches. Now it is becoming increasingly unpopular to be a true follower of Jesus Christ. So we thumb our nose at God.

We break His commandments left and right. And sometimes I wonder if the Lord would allow another nation to overtake us. Even a godless nation to do so. Oh that would never happen.

How can you say that? He let it happen to Israel. He warned them.

Could it happen to us? You know they loved idols so God sent them to Idol Central. Babylon. Babylon was known to be a place of rampant idolatry where they worshipped thousands of gods.

Careful what you wish for you might get it. It reminds us of the story of the Israelites after they left Egypt. They were wandering in the wilderness. By the way it should not have taken 40 years. Why did it take them 40 years to get from Egypt to Israel?

Because men were in charge and no one would stop and ask for directions. No. The real reason was they were disobeying God and they were going around in circles. Hey haven't we seen that cactus before? I carved my initials in it but it is bigger now. Yeah.

You are going around and around. But the Lord provided for them and gave them their food every single day. It was called manna. They would wake up in the morning and right outside of their tent door manna would be waiting. And they would eat that manna. Well because they were in the wilderness for so long they got tired of manna.

They had read Moses' book 101 Recipes for Manna. They had you know banana pancakes and manna sandwiches and manicotti and you name it they had it. And they got tired of it. So they started complaining and they said, Hey we remember the good old days back in Egypt when we used to eat garlic and leeks and onions. And their breath must have stunk.

Right? And then they said we miss meat. We are tired of manna. Every day it is manna. We don't want any more manna. We want meat. And they cried out for me over and over again.

The Lord said, Moses stand back. I am going to give them what they want. And the Bible says heavens opened up and God rained quail on them. All these little birds just dropping to the ground. These people were so desperate for meat they didn't even kill the bird and prepare it. They ate it while it was still alive. And you know what the Bible says? It tells us that quail, that meat, turned bitter in their mouth.

Scripture says He gave them the request but He sent leanness to their soul. Again careful what you wish for. You might get it. I want this. I want this.

God says I don't want to give that to you. I want it. I want it. I don't want to give it to you. I want it. I want it. No. Here. That is what happened to them.

They wanted it and God said okay. You got it. You want idols? You like the works of false gods? You don't appreciate me? You don't want my manna anymore? Welcome to Babylon ladies and gentlemen.

See how that works out for you. So now they are conquered by Nebuchadnezzar exactly as God said they would be. Now Nebuchadnezzar he wanted them to abandon their faith. He wanted them to embrace the pagan Babylonian culture and religion. It was the intention of Nebuchadnezzar to erase every vestige of identification between the Israelites and their God. And he gave a decree that he wanted Israel's brightest and best brought into his court so he could have them indoctrinated in the ways of Babylon. And that is where our story begins. Daniel chapter 1 verse 1.

Let's read it. By the way I am reading from the New Living Translation. During the third year of King Jehoiakim's reign in Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it with his armies. The Lord gave him victory over King Jehoiakim of Judah. Interesting it says the Lord gave him victory.

When Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon he took with him some of the sacred objects from the temple of God and placed them in the treasure house of his God in the land of Babylon. Then the king ordered Asphanez who was in charge of the palace officials to bring in some of the young men of Judah's royal family and other noble families who had been brought to Babylon as captives. So here clearly the king is looking for young Israeli men to corrupt. Verse 4.

Select only strong healthy and good looking young men he said. Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning and they are gifted with knowledge and good sense and have the poise needed to serve in the royal palace. Teach these young men the language and the literature of the Babylonians. Verse 5.

The king assigned them a daily ration of the best food and wine from his own kitchens. Now they were to be trained for a three year period and some of them would become advisors in his royal court. Their names are given. Verse 6. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Those were their names given to them as good Jewish boys. And by the way each one of those names reflected an attribute of the true God of Israel. But the chief official renamed them with Babylonian names. Hananiah was called Shadrach. Mishael was called Meshach. Azariah was called Abednego. But Daniel made up his mind not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to him by the king. He has the chief official for permission to eat other things instead.

So we will stop there. So it is believed by many commentators that these four young men were somewhere between 14 and 19 years old. They were teenagers. Clearly they were raised in believing homes by godly parents. Nebuchadnezzar wanted to change that so he changed their names.

But he could not change their hearts. But their world as they knew it literally changed overnight. They went from a simple God fearing culture to a decadent one. These young men torn away from mother and father were placed in this alien culture of paganism and unparalleled luxury.

Up to this time they would have lived in basic conditions. Now they are in the very palace of the great Nebuchadnezzar. And Babylon in that day was an amazing city. In fact one of the seven wonders of the ancient world included the hanging gardens of Babylon. They were surrounded by jaw-dropping opulence. But there was no reverence for the Lord God in this place.

Everyone cowered in fear before King Nebuchadnezzar. And I wonder if this has happened to you recently. Your world has changed. You are living in a new place. Maybe you are in a college campus or your business has sent you to a different city. Or you are in the military. Or you work overseas and you find yourself in a place like Iraq, Afghanistan, or somewhere else.

But here is what you need to know. No matter where you go in this big old planet if you are a follower of Jesus Christ God will still be with you. And God was with them in this pagan culture. Nebuchadnezzar could change their names but he could not change their hearts. They had a God to serve and they had a stand to make. And understand that Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were facing heavy duty temptation. The world was their oyster. They were given the finest education. Before them were the most delicious foods and wine in the entire planet. Nebuchadnezzar was sure such young men would be seduced by all of this luxury.

But he had not considered one thing. They had character. Pastor Greg Laurie is just getting started in this study called Staying Cool When Things Get Hot. And there is much more to come here on A New Beginning. But listen if you missed any part of today's program you can hear what you missed by going online to our website. Harvest.org. You can listen while you're online or download an MP3 to hear later. And keep in mind we make these studies available without charge because of the faithful support of listeners like you.

Again find them at Harvest.org. Well it's such a joy to have children's author Sally Lloyd-Jones with us today. A good friend of the ministry. Pastor Greg is speaking to her today about the great books we're making available.

Near and Children's Carry Along Bible. Sally I think you have such a gift for communicating with children. Both in your writing but also when you speak it doesn't hurt that you have a British accent.

So no matter what you say it sounds better than my accent or any other American. But if you're sitting down with a child and you want to convey biblical truth. Give our listeners a few tips on how to do a little devotion with the child. What should they do and maybe what should they avoid? Well parents know best how to reach their children. But I would say one of the things I've learned by watching a really amazing teacher. Is get on the same level as the child.

Literally sit on the floor with them. Because I think the one thing we shouldn't be doing is coming at them from on high. As if we've got all the answers.

Now we do have a lot of the answers and there are times when we should be teaching them. But my feeling is in a time of devotion it's really important that both of us. The child and the adult come before our Heavenly Father together. Because that's how you would with a friend isn't it? And so I think with a child you want to just be honest. Like this is how I feel with God.

And I wonder you can wonder out loud. So one time I heard a teacher talking to a child. They just read the Jesus Storybook Bible. The story of the feeding of the five thousand. And instead of what they could have done.

They could have said. Well now children. What does this story teach us about how we should share our lunch with other people? Which is to me a very sad thing. Because that's not the point of the story. And it suddenly turns the story into a sermon and makes it all about. And I love sermons. But it takes the story and turns it into a moral lesson.

Instead what you can say is. Wow that little boy gave Jesus everything. It wasn't very much but it was everything.

I wonder what would happen if I gave Jesus everything. So as an adult you can wonder with the child about your own devotional life. And that way you're being truthful. You're not trying to force cram some moral lesson down the child's throat. You're together wondering at the amazing truth that you have a father who loves you.

No matter how grown up you are. Sally Lloyd-Jones is with us today. We're so happy to be making available two books of hers, Near based on Psalm 139. And Babies Carry Along Bible. A sturdy board book with ten memorable Bible stories told in rhyme. And we'll send both of these children's resources your way to thank you for your investment.

So Pastor Greg's teaching can continue to come your way each day. We so much appreciate your partnership. You can write us at A New Beginning, Box 4000. Riverside, California 92514. Or call 1-800-821-3300. That's 1-800-821-3300.

Or go online to Harvest.org. Hey everybody, Greg Laurie here. You know my uncle Fred Jordan had one of the first Christian TV programs out there. It was called Church in the Home.

I remember watching it as a little boy when I was living with my grandparents. Well we have Church in the Home for you every weekend. It's called Harvest at Home and you can find it at Harvest.org. We have worship and a message from God's word. So join us this weekend for Harvest at Home at Harvest.org. Well next time Pastor Greg points out that so many can't find the happiness they're searching for.

Because they're searching for it in the wrong places. The source of real joy next time here on A New Beginning. This is the day, the day when life begins The preceding podcast was made possible by Harvest Partners. Helping people everywhere know God. Learn how to become a Harvest Partner. Sign up for daily devotions and find resources to help you grow in your faith at Harvest.org
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-20 11:46:06 / 2023-09-20 11:56:44 / 11

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