You're listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. For more ways to deepen and challenge your spiritual walk, enroll in Pastor Greg's free online courses.
Sign up at harvest.org. We should seek purpose. We should not seek success. We should seek significance. Many of us carry smartphones, and most of them have cameras.
And it's great to have a camera at your fingertips. But why do we take pictures? To preserve moments, fleeting moments. We want to hold on to the happiness because it so quickly disappears. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us see real joy comes on another level, a level that can't be captured by a snapshot. It's a level that brings the richest fulfillment and also delivers us from the most fiery trials. Now here before us is a story of three young men that were in a real fiery trial.
In their case it was literal because they were put into a fiery furnace. I think you know what I am talking about. I am talking about Huey, Dewey, and Louie. No. I am talking about the Pep Boys.
No. I am talking about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. How did they end up in this furnace of fire? They ended up there because they would not deny God and bow before a false image.
It is a story of how they stood up for what was right even at the risk of losing their own lives because they had character. 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 am going to send you into captivity for 70 years. Yet they ignored God's warning. 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 secret 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're well versed in every branch of learning and they're gifted with knowledge and good sense and of 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. 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'll 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. 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. Their mothers and fathers raised them right. So here they are in the king's court. They are allowed to eat of the food from his kitchen and yet they decided to make a stand and not do it. Now I find this very interesting.
Because this doesn't necessarily to us seem like a big deal but this is where they made their first stand. Verse 8, Daniel made up his mind to not defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. Or if you have a King James version or a new King James it says Daniel purposed in his heart to not defile himself. Now why would it be defiling himself to eat of the food made in the king's kitchen?
Well I can only offer a guess. I think one obvious reason would be that it violated the dietetic laws given by the Lord to Israel. But I think perhaps another reason is this food was dedicated to the false gods of Babylon. And so Daniel and the boys said we are not going to do that. Because in their minds that was a compromise. You know sometimes there are things that we will simply choose to not do because we are a Christian.
And sometimes these so-called liberties can vary from person to person. You know we have different metabolisms right. You all remember Steve Wilburn our youth pastor. And he has his church up in L.A. now Court Church.
It is doing very well. I have known Steve for years. And he is just wiry. He doesn't have any weight on him. And when he was a younger man in his 20s and he ate like a horse I would say, Steve you watch what is going to happen. Your metabolism will change and you will start putting on weight.
Guess what. His metabolism never changed. And I have been to In-N-Out Burger with him. He will eat two double doubles fries.
And I will just have my one little hamburger. And he doesn't gain weight. And I do. And it drives me crazy. I hate him. No I don't. I love him.
But I wish I had his metabolism. And for some they may be able to do a certain thing and it is not necessarily wrong. But for another maybe who has a conscience that is a little more tender if they were to do that same thing that would be a violation. Romans 14 23 says, Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. Another translation of that verse says, If anyone who believes that something he wants to do is wrong he shouldn't do it. He sins if he does.
For if he thinks it's wrong to him it is wrong. So Daniel made us stand here because for him it was wrong. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of today's message in just a moment. You know Pastor Greg you've talked about the Jesus movement. The Jesus revolution of the 60s and 70s. Yeah. It was an incredible move of the spirit. A true spiritual awakening. That's right.
But as we see the cultural decay in our cities and you know a moral decline across the culture Jesus revolution really has to be a part of our future doesn't it? It really does. You know back in the 60s we use the phrase deja vu a lot. Yeah. And deja vu is sort of like oh whoa I've been here before.
Well almost in a technical sense it seems like hey we've been here before. Riots on the streets. Failing economy. Hopelessness in the air.
Young people searching for meaning in life. A drug epidemic. It was called the late 60s and early 70s. But I'll tell you what turned things around. It wasn't a political revolution. It wasn't a moral revolution. It was a Jesus revolution. It happened before.
It can happen again. Now listen we can't make a revival happen but perhaps we can prepare the ground or let me restate it prepare the ground by praying for another Jesus revolution. Praying for another spiritual awakening. I really think we're long overdue and so please let's all be praying for this in our nation and here at Harvest Ministries I want you to know that we're committed to the cause of proclaiming the gospel. That's one of the earmarks of the Jesus movement.
There was a lot of evangelism and I feel in many ways the church as a whole has maybe lost sight of the importance of preaching the gospel. We want to get the gospel to as many people as we can as quickly as we can in these critical days in which we're living and we want to see another spiritual awakening in America. Will you join us in that endeavor? Will you stand with us in your prayers and with your finances and help us to attempt to fulfill the great commission in our lifetime? Yeah you play an important part in that so pray about being a partner with us as we share the hope of the gospel across town across the nation and even overseas. Your investments make a real difference in so many lives and it's an eternal difference so prayerfully consider a year-end investment. Won't you do that?
You can call us anytime 24 hours a day at 1-800-821-3300 that's 1-800-821-3300 or go online to harvest.org. Well today Pastor Greg is focusing on the trials experienced by Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego explained in Daniel chapter 1. Another temptation here was just the basic appeal of the food and wine of course but also this was the way to climb the corporate ladder of Babylon. I mean if you wanted to succeed in Babylon make nice with the king right. He asks you to eat food from his kitchen. Don't blow him off. Be like your boss saying I want to take you to lunch and you say I don't want to go to lunch with you boss. That's not a very smart thing to do. And then if you do decide to go eat lunch with your boss and he orders you something it's probably a good thing to eat it if you can.
You don't take the food and throw it on the floor. You don't want to offend him. So there was that intimidation factor in play. Nebuchadnezzar was powerful and he was wicked. You know when he captured the king of Israel he forced the king to watch his own sons be put to death and then he gouged the king's eyes out. That was the kind of guy Nebuchadnezzar was. You don't want to mess with a person like this. And yet Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego make their stand right here.
We are not eating of that food. We are drawing the line right here. And in the same way there is going to come a time when you need to make your stand for Jesus Christ.
Are you going to be able to stand in that day. Daniel did verse 8. He made up his mind to not defile himself or the King James is. He purposed in his heart.
This is what we need more of today. Purpose. Dare to be a Daniel. Dare to stand alone. Dare to have a purpose firm. Dare to make it known. Paul wrote to Timothy you have fully known my purpose.
Could you say that to someone? What would you say your purpose is? Maybe the best way to find out your purpose would not be to ask you but it would be to ask someone that knows you really well. Hey what is his purpose? What really gets that guy going?
What really makes that girl excited? What is it that drives him in life? That is your purpose. What would you say your purpose really is? Some if they are honest might say hey my purpose is to just have fun. For another they might say my purpose in life is to experience pleasure. Another might say my purpose in life is to be successful.
Another would say I want to make money. Another would say I want to be happy. The problem is if you chase after happiness you will never find it. But if you seek to be a holy person you will find happiness is a byproduct. No we should not seek pleasure. We should seek purpose. We should not seek success.
We should seek significance. So Daniel made a deal with the man who was in charge of enforcing the king's will. He said look you guys you can eat all this food from the king's kitchen. We don't want to do this. And you eat your rich luxurious foods.
And the boys and I we are going to just eat vegetables and drink water for ten days and let's just see who comes out best when it is all said and done. Now the man identified as the chief official in Daniel 1.9 had great respect the Bible tells us for Daniel. You see when you take a stand for the Lord in principle even non-Christians are impressed.
And that is because it is so hard these days to find people that have conviction and courage. Proverbs 16 says, when a man's ways please the Lord even his enemies are at peace with him. The king's official says guys don't mess this up.
Because if you look unhealthy and weak after your little fast I am going to get in trouble with the king. Daniel reassures him. Listen. Don't panic.
It is organic. We will be fine. Just give us our vegetables and our water.
You eat your other food. We will see how it turns out. This reminds us that a little with God is better than much without Him.
Let me repeat that. A little, and I would put that in quotes, with God is better than much without Him. I would rather have God's worse than the world's best. What is the world's best? I don't know.
You know all the things the world celebrates I guess. But what is God's worst? What is the worst thing about being a Christian? I would say probably the worst thing is persecution perhaps. Of being ostracized.
Being mocked. Sometimes being assaulted. And in some cases even being put to death. That is one of the worst things about being a Christian. I would rather have God's worse than the world's best.
I would rather be in a storm with Jesus than anywhere else without Him. But then there is the other side. Then there is eternity. And then whatever it was, the discomfort, the hardship, or even the death of a person on this side is all sorted out when we get to the other side and we receive our reward and we get the big picture.
So you just stand on what is true. You know what do we really miss as Christians when we get off that merry-go-round of selfishness, drinking, drugs, illicit sex, parties, whatever. You know you go your way in life and I will go mine. Let's compare notes later and see who made the right decision. I am up for that.
Are you? You know you want to live that life. You can go live it if you want to. But Daniel is saying we are going to stand for the Lord. And we will see how that turns out. Well it turned out very well. Because when it was all said and done they were healthier looking than everyone else.
And God blessed them because they were faithful in the small things. And now the king has a dream. And it is a troubling dream.
It is a nightmare. And he wants to find out what the meaning of the dream is. So he calls in all of his astrologers and magicians and other weirdos that were on the palace payroll. He says, you guys have got to figure this out. I had this dream. What does it mean? He said, tell us the dream and we will make up. I mean we will give you the mystical interpretation. Nebuchadnezzar said, if you are any good you know what the dream is and the interpretation.
So you tell me what my dream was. They didn't know. Because they were all phony. And so he was ticked off and said, I want all of you killed. Well as it turns out Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and Daniel were kind of on the palace payroll as advisors so they would have been killed too. Daniel says, well hold on. Let me see the king. I will tell him the dream. So Daniel walks into the king's court and says, I know what you dreamed king. You dreamt of a giant statue. Am I right so far? Yes.
Ok. The statue. It had a head of gold. It had chest and arms of silver.
Belly and thighs of brass and legs of iron and feet of clay. Is that right so far? Yes. That is it.
Ok. Here is what it means king. The first part of this dream, that is Babylon, you are the head of gold.
That is you. But one day you are going to be overtaken by another nation represented as arms and chest of silver. So God is telling you your kingdom will be overtaken one day.
That is the meaning of your dream. The king says in Daniel 2.47, your God is the God of gods, the Lord over kings, the revealer of mysteries. You have been able to reveal the secret. Did King Nebuchadnezzar believe in the Lord after that? No.
In fact it actually went from bad to worse. As we come to chapter 3 of Daniel. Daniel himself is out of the picture momentarily. And it is just Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The king has erected a 90 foot image covered in gold. So he took that dream where Babylon was represented by a head of gold and made a statue of gold. Probably a replica of himself. And he told everyone in the kingdom to worship it. And talk about missing the point.
He wants everyone to engage in full tilt idolatry. And standing out like three sore thumbs there were those three holy boys. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They wouldn't bow. See they understood what the Bible said. And they knew what the second commandment said. And the second commandment said, Do not make idols of any kind. You shall not worship or bow down to them for I the Lord your God am a jealous God and I will not share my affection with any. So everybody in Babylon bowed but they stood up straight.
They figured better to burn on earth and bow in heaven than to bow on earth and burn in hell. We're learning a lot from the strong resolve shown by these four godly young men. Pastor Greg Laurie with his message, Staying cool when things get hot. And there's more to come here on The New Beginning.
Well Pastor Greg is in the studio with us today along with his wife Kathy. Pastor Greg I came across a quote that said there are places in the heart you don't even know exist until you love a child. And it's such a great expression of love for a child to just sit down and read a story to them. And even more a story about his or her creator.
That's right. And that's what we're talking about right now with a brand new book that we're making available by author Sally Lloyd-Jones. Yes and Sally Lloyd-Jones is the gold standard of children's books. And I wouldn't just say Christian children's books. I would just say of children's books. But the added benefit is Sally is a believer and brings scripture to life and the stories of the Bible to life.
Her book the Jesus Storybook Bible is an absolute classic that every Christian should have in their home. But we have two sons and we have five grandchildren and we read to all of them. And you know in their little they sit in your lap and you turn the page and you read the lines and then you have them point at things and you ask them questions and then you turn the page and and they all had certain books they really loved. Well I didn't have Sally's books when our sons were babies but I did have them when our grandchildren were and we were able to read these beautiful stories to them and just see how the light went on and they understood it and they got it. And even as I read these things to them I was blessed by them and thought wow I love that way that she turned that phrase and and the way she explained that.
And and in fact I have Sally here with me right now and Sally thank you for all these beautiful books that you write. And when you write a book like the one we're offering to our listeners right now this book is called Known which is based on part of Psalm 139. What is your objective? Like what is your goal as you write this book?
What would be success in your eyes when that book is completed? Wow that's a great question and thank you for all your lovely words that you said. It's my great honor to write for Little Ones and I think my goal is well Frost said no tears in the writer no tears in the reader. So my goal is really to get children laughing and grown-ups crying which sounds awful but if I if I swap it round I've done something wrong because often what happens I hear from people they'll the the child will be being read to by the parents you know say they're reading the Jesus storybook bible or something and the child will be completely in the story and enjoying it but the parent will be crying and the child we go why are you crying and that that means that I've done my job because I think a story should do both and for a little tiny baby you don't you know you're not looking to make them cry but you're that what that's getting at is the poignant you want poignant because truth when you're older the truth that the baby's hearing is different but for the older person because we've been through more and we've seen suffering and loss and grief and something about the word of God when it's presented in a way without obstacle it pierces our heart and it's to me it's just if I can get out of the way and let God's word through it using the words he's given me to make it really simple for the tiniest ears then I probably will capture the adult as well but I always aim at the child and think about how can I make it that they can hear that God loves them that's my main goal is to bring them joy because they know that God sees them he loves them he cares about them and he has an incredible plan for them even if they're only one especially if they're only one to let them know that God loves them that's a great objective in writing the books you write Sally and we have a book that says just that and it's called known a new book for the really little ones what would you see the age range on this book is Sally well it could be the tiniest taught I mean I I hear people reading when the baby's in the mother's womb so I I don't like to put age levels on anything so I say sort of maybe one to 101. Mm-hmm. One to 101 to the tiniest taught uh so order your copy of known by Sally Lloyd-Jones and we'll send it to you for your gift of any size this month to help us continue on teaching the word of God and proclaiming the and proclaiming the gospel yeah that's right and it's such a wonderful book and we have a copy waiting for you what a great Christmas gift for someone special in your family want to get in touch for your copy we're sending it to say thank you for your investment in the work we do not only here on the radio each day but in some other very strategic ways we're reaching out in the new year it's such a pivotal time for your investment so get in touch today with your donation and be sure to ask for known psalm 139 you can call us at 1-800-821-3300 we're here around the clock to take your call that's 1-800-821-3300 or write a new beginning box 4000 riverside california 92514 or go online to harvest.org well next time pastor Greg points out we'll all eventually face our own fiery trial in life and he counsels us to make a stand now not when the crisis hits join us here on a new beginning with pastor and bible teacher Greg Laurie hey everybody thanks for listening to this podcast to learn more about harvest ministries follow this show and consider supporting it just go to harvest.org and to find out how to know God personally go to harvest.org and click on know God
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