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I Dare You: Be Distinct! - Part A

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January 2, 2023 5:00 am

I Dare You: Be Distinct! - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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January 2, 2023 5:00 am

Men and women of character rise to meet a challenge. One shining example is the prophet Daniel, a man of God who influenced his world and honored the Lord. Join Skip as he shares the message "I Dare You: Be Distinct!"

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Skip Heitzig

That's the very reason you and I ought to step up and live a more daring way, so to speak, because the Bible promises in Deuteronomy 33, the eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.

The Bible actually calls us to be countercultural. And today on Connect with Skip Heiting, Skip shares what the life of Daniel has to teach us about standing out from the crowd. Find the time you spend in God's Word and see God's sweeping plan for humanity across the pages of Scripture. Ready to upgrade your Bible study in 2023? We have a plan and a package for you. Skip Heiting's book, The Bible from 30,000 Feet, is an ideal companion for a survey of the entire scope of Scripture.

Here's a great goal for the coming year. Conduct a personal study of all 66 books as Skip Heiting guides you from a biblical altitude of 30,000 feet. We want to give you firm direction to unlock the riches of God's Word by sending you two resources from Pastor Skip, How to Study the Bible and Enjoy It, and The Bible from 30,000 Feet.

You'll gain helpful Bible study tools as you practice how to observe, absorb, and interpret the Bible, then apply it to your life. These two resources are our thanks for your gift today of $50 or more. Skip has asked the team at Connection Communications to make it a priority in 2023 to take the daily messages as you have heard them today and expand them into more metropolitan areas.

Will you help us make that happen? And with your gift, you will receive copies of How to Study the Bible and Enjoy It and The Bible from 30,000 Feet, both books by Skip Heiting to kickstart your 2023 Bible study plans. Call 800-922-1888 or give online securely at slash offer. That's slash offer.

Join Skip for today's program. Status quo. You've heard the term. It's actually from the legal dictionary.

It means the current state of affairs or the existing state of things, things as they are. But it's a term that has come to mean unchanged or not different or not distinct, even boring, you know, just status quo. But you know, when kids grow up, they don't want to be different. They don't want to be distinct. They want to be like the rest of the world.

The rest of the group, the rest of the crowd. It's called peer pressure. To conform to being like the popular ones, the thin ones, the fashionable ones, the smart ones.

On television some time ago, there was a special documentary and teenagers were interviewed and they asked them, what is the biggest problem that you can see in your own lives? All of them said the biggest problem we face is peer pressure. The pressure to conform to the group. So it's all about conformity, but somewhere along the line, as we get older, somebody decides that individuality is much cooler than conformity. Be yourself.

Your own expression. Individuality. And so you're encouraged to be yourself as long as that individuality conforms to what the group calls cool individuality. So back in the 1960s, it was all about the counterculture. I was just a wee little tot, but I saw the cry for freedom and we're different from our parents and we're the unique generation. And so the songs were all about a revolution. We're honest.

We're edgy. That's what the music portrayed. But the amazing revelation came one day when I heard that same revolutionary music in the elevator.

And in the dentist's office. Suddenly the whole counterculture thing became now mainstream. Did you know that the Bible actually calls us to be countercultural? Paul says, do not be conformed to this world, but be what?

Transformed. Utterly, totally changed by the renewing of your minds. I'm beginning a new series in a remarkable book, The Book of Daniel. It is an incredible document.

It's an incredible book. It's a book that the first half centers on the man, Daniel. The second half, the message of Daniel. The first part is about the prophet.

The second part is about the prophecies. But as remarkable as all of that will become, there's the person himself that stands out as a very powerful person. A very courageous individual. So we've called the name of the series, I Dare You.

Because of the daring way Daniel lived in Babylon so many years ago. Now you know what a dare is. A dare is simply a challenge.

Usually it's a challenge to prove that you're courageous. And so kids will say, I dare you. And then it goes, well, I double dare you. Then it's, I double dog dare you. And it goes on.

It amplifies as the conversation goes on. The idea of the dare with the book of Daniel isn't really new or unique. It actually is borrowed from a song in the 1800s penned by a Sunday school teacher in Chicago to help his students remember the points of the book of Daniel.

And his little song went like this. Dare to be a Daniel. Dare to stand alone. Dare to have a purpose firm. Dare to make it known.

So we're gonna do that. Each week we're gonna, in our study, look at a challenging aspect of the life of Daniel and take the Daniel dare. There's gonna be about 20 different studies in this book and we're gonna be challenged to think and act and live in a very unique fashion and hopefully to be dared, challenged to step it up to a whole new level of our Christian experience. To live a daring kind of a way.

Our 26th president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, once said, it's better to dare mighty things to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. The challenge will be then is to live on the high wire, so to speak. One man was having a conversation with a trapeze artist speaking of the high wire. And in the conversation, the trapeze artist said, you know we have a net underneath us as we walk across that high wire. We have it there for two reasons. Number one, obviously, so we don't break our neck. Number two, we have that net there so we don't fall.

Because let me explain. Imagine what it would be like for us to not have that net underneath us. We would be so nervous we would miss and we would fall. But as long as that net is there, we would do things we wouldn't dare to do otherwise. We're more daring, we do more. Now let me submit to you that that's the very reason you and I ought to step up and live a more daring way, so to speak. Because the Bible promises in Deuteronomy 33, the eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.

What better net than that? So the challenge will be in all of the book of Daniel, is to go for it. Dare to do more. Be extraordinary.

Today, I dare you. Be distinct. And as we read chapter one, there are four principles that were true for Daniel that are true for us when it comes to being distinct. Number one, life happens unexpectedly. Some of you know that to be true. Life happens unexpectedly.

You plan certain things and then it gets changed. Look at verse one and verse two. In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, into his hand with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his God. And he brought the articles into the treasure house of his God.

So life is going along nicely. Christ and Sweden, Judea, everything's good. The sun comes up in Jerusalem, but one day they look out and the Babylonians are around them and they attack the city.

In fact, not only do they attack the city, they kill many of the people and take those who are left into captivity with them. What I want you to notice is the book opens up with two short statements. These statements cover the same event from two entirely different perspectives. Viewpoint number one, the viewpoint of secular history. Viewpoint number two, the viewpoint of biblical theology. Notice it says Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem and besieged it. Those are just the historical facts. That's the viewpoint of secular history.

You can check any historical document of antiquity that talks about this and that's what you will find. But there's another viewpoint presented. Notice it also says, and the Lord gave Jehoiakim into his hand. Now that's the viewpoint of biblical theology.

And I show this to you here because those two perspectives will be interwoven with each other throughout the entire book of Daniel. You see, on one hand, man is active in history. On the other hand, God is also active in history. So consider it historically. In the year 605 BC, there was a young man by the name of Nebuchadnezzar who was becoming the new kid on the block, you might say.

A rising political star. He would become eventually the ruler of the known world in antiquity. All because of a very decisive battle that happened in the town of Karshemish, southern Turkey. A very famous battle. If you know history, you know of the Battle of Karshemish where the Babylonians fought two superpowers aligned with each other, Egypt and Assyria. It was a decisive victory for the Babylonians, defeating Egypt and Assyria, opening up really the rest of the world.

It was easy pickings from then on. So in 605, that same year, the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar surrounded the city of Jerusalem. And there were three successive sieges, 605 BC, 597 BC, and 586 BC when the Babylonians burned the city of Jerusalem with fire.

And if you ever come to Jerusalem with me, I can show you stones that still bear the scorch marks of the fire set by the Babylonians in 586 BC that they have uncovered in recent years. So that happened historically. And when that happened, some of the people were killed, some of them were taken captive. Among those who were captives was Daniel. You know how old he was?

Probably age 15, 16 or 17, right around there. Imagine what it would be like to see your child be taken captive 650 miles away. That'd probably be the last thing you'd see before they kill you. So you would die in misery.

That was the program. But what happened unexpectedly, some people should have expected it. In fact, really most of them, if not all of them, should have expected it because God had predicted so much so many years before at different intervals in history. You see, way back in the giving of the law, Deuteronomy, when Moses was around, God through Moses warned them, listen, I'm giving you a new land. If you obey me and love me, good things are gonna happen.

If you disobey me, some pretty bad, gnarly things are gonna happen. Including this, this is Deuteronomy chapter 28. The Lord will bring a distant nation against you from the end of the earth, and it will swoop down on you like an eagle.

It is a nation whose language you do not understand. They will lay siege to your cities until all of the fortified walls in your land, the walls you trusted in to protect you, are not down. They will attack all of the towns in the land the Lord your God has given you.

That's warning number one. As time goes on, prophets arise and give several other warnings, each one more exact, more precise, like this one from Isaiah the prophet, chapter 39. The time is coming when everything you have, all of the treasures stored up by your ancestors, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. Some of your own descendants will be taken away into exile.

They will become eunuchs who will serve in the palace of Babylon. The Babylonians came. So do you see, there's always two sides of histories. There's always the factual side, and then there's the spiritual side.

The factual side, the when, the how, the what, the where, but there's always the spiritual side, the why. Nebuchadnezzar attacked, the Lord gave, both of them working side by side. Very loudly, but God is the orchestra director. And Nebuchadnezzar, the God, is nothing more than a pawn on a chessboard, and he is being moved around so that Daniel can get to a key position. It's a divine setup.

So here's the principle. Yes, life may happen unexpectedly, but God is working supernaturally. Whenever life is happening unexpectedly, you go, oh no, I can't believe it.

Slow down, calm down. God is behind the scenes. As one author put it, God's ways are behind the scenes, but he moves all the scenes he is behind. Now, I'm sure people in Judea were saying things like, how could God let this happen? Those are the bad guys.

We're the good guys. Why would God let the bad guys attack the good guys? And I think Daniel would step forward and say, much like Paul the apostle said when he was taken captive, I want you to know, brethren, that all these things that have happened have happened for the further and the less of the gospel. Or what Joseph, his predecessor, might have said to his brothers who sold him as a captive, as for you, you meant this for evil against me, but God meant it for good. So that's the first principle.

Life happens unexpectedly. The second one is seen in the next few verses, and that is the world demands conformity. Now watch this, verse three. God calls him a master of his eunuchs to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king's descendants and some of the nobles, young men in whom there was no blemish but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans, and the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king's delicacies and of the wine which he drank, of training for them so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names.

He gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah, Shadrach, to Mishael, Meshach, and to Azariah, Abednego. We live in a world that has values and standards that they want you to conform to. They are uncomfortable with you not conforming to their idea of tolerance, their idea of what's important and not important.

The world wants you to conform. Well it was that way also in Nebuchadnezzar's world of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar has a well-formulated time-tested plan of taking the cream of the crop of the captives he had taken, training them, brainwashing them so to speak, and letting them serve him in his palace. He has a four-pronged approach.

In fact, as you listen to this four-pronged approach, notice how it is still effective today. Number one, isolation. Isolate the people, take them from their homeland to my land.

They're away from their family, they're away from their peers, they're away from their priests, they're away from the reading of their law, their scriptures, the worship of their God, and bring them over here, isolated. Number two, indoctrination. Notice it says in verse four, they were taught the language and the literature of the Chaldeans. What's wrong with that?

Nothing. However, the point here isn't just to train them academically, but to brainwash them, to steep them in the literature as well as the language. It's that literature that would influence their worldview. It would challenge their worldview. You can just imagine how esteemed, trained Babylonian professors could make an impact on young, teenage, impressionable Jewish minds.

Everything they had been taught would be challenged, their view of God, their view of man, their view of sin, their view of redemption. Everything they learned growing up would be challenged by a new Babylonian pagan worldview. Archeology has also shown that among other things, they would be trained the Babylonian art of divination, fortune telling, telling the future. Babylonians believed in omens. They were very superstitious. They believed that there were terrestrial as well as celestial signs, and when those signs happened, they were either bad omens or good omens. And get this, they also predicted the future by looking at sheep livers. I don't know, when they wiggle and squiggle or point in a certain direction, that meant something to them.

Can I just say that's a bad idea? I couldn't resist. They believed in these omens, and I just think they were really trying to pull the wool over their eyes.

Okay, I repent, I'll stop, no more sheep jokes. This was basically a three-year graduate course to make them forget everything they had learned growing up and supplant that with new ideas. It's not terribly unlike what many Christian college students find on many secular university campuses. I've always found it interesting, and I've experienced it. Why teachers who are paid to teach English or chemistry or biology go out of their way to undermine the belief system of some of the young people in their class, targeting them, zeroing in, trying to dismantle everything they've learned.

Isolation, indoctrination. Third, concession. Let's get these young people to concede, to give up something.

We'll make this so amazing for them they wouldn't wanna go back. Look at verse five. They were given daily provisions of the king's delicacies and wine, which he drank. In other words, Nebuchadnezzar brought in the best caterers with the finest menu, the royal menu. Food fit for a king, literally, was given to them.

Why? So they'd go, we never ate like this in Jerusalem. It was all about falafels and hummus.

Now this is food. You just have to imagine what kind of impression Babylon would make on a young teenager. If you were to walk up to the city of Babylon at that time, you would see walls, historians tell us, 300 feet high, 85 feet thick, 56 miles long that circumference that city, the Euphrates River running through town, in the middle of the town were the hanging gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, tear upon tear of verdant greenery.

If you were to walk through the Ishtar Gate, the most prominent gate, you would be on a boulevard that was 65 feet wide, tiled with limestone and marble, and flanked by red-tiled sidewalks. And so you're a young guy from Jerusalem, your mouth is hanging open going, wow, man, this is amazing, and we're being treated royally. And besides that, our God didn't protect us from these guys, maybe it's not real.

Everything that we learn maybe isn't real. Fourth was confusion. So you have isolation, you have indoctrination, you have concession, and the fourth step was confusion. Let's give them new names. Let's take away from them the most personal, precious thing they have, their own name, their identity, and change their identity.

Have you followed this news article about the girl in Iceland, 15 years of age? She's been named something by her mother, and she's been called that for 15 years. But the government of Iceland doesn't recognize that name because it's not on the list of approved names you can call your child.

There's actually a list of names, and you can't go beyond that. So on her passport, her legal document, the government puts on there girl, that's her name, girl. Not her name, her name is taken away, supplanted by the name girl.

And so now there's this lawsuit going between her and her family and the country of Iceland. Notice that Daniel, whose name means God is my judge, is changed to Belteshazzar, which means may Bel protect the king. Bel being one of the gods in the pantheon of Babylon. Hananiah is a Hebrew word that means beloved of the Lord, Yahweh. He's given the name Shadrach, which means illumined by the sun god, Rock. Mishael means who is like God. Meshech means who is like Aku, the sun goddess. Azariah means the Lord is my help.

He's given the name Abednego, which means servant of the shining one, Nego, also one of the Babylonian gods. So life happens unexpectedly. The world demands conformity, and now we come to the very heart of the message.

It's embodied in the third principle, and that is commitment begins inwardly. That's Skip Heitzig's message from his series, I Dare You. Now, here's Skip to share how you can help keep this broadcast going strong, connecting you and others around the world with God's word.

The world tries to silence us whenever we stand for Jesus and his truth, but that's all the more reason we should speak out and share the gospel as much as we can. And we want to encourage and equip you to do just that with Bible teachings to build up your faith and your knowledge of scripture. And through your generosity, you can help share these messages you love with even more people around the world. Here's how you can give today. Visit slash donate to give a gift. That's slash donate, or call 800-922-1888, 800-922-1888.

Thank you for your generosity. Tomorrow, Skip explains how your commitment to God has to begin inwardly. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the cross and cast all burdens on his word. Make a connection, a connection. Connect with Skip Hyten is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-02 13:10:58 / 2023-01-02 13:20:50 / 10

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