Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Friday, September 23rd. Are you familiar with the story of Daniel from the Old Testament? His life reveals clear and strong motivation to remain surrendered to the Lord.
The series Unfailing Commitment continues. Why is it some people can achieve so much and other people achieve so little? Probably our first response is, well, these people are more talented than these people and therefore that's the reason, but not necessarily so. Why is it some people are so excited and enthusiastic about what they're doing and energized to do well at what they're doing, whereas someone else who may have the same responsibility seems to be sort of lackadaisical about the whole idea?
No excitement, no enthusiasm. What is the difference? How is it that two people oftentimes sitting on the same pew in the same church building, listening to the same message, one can be excited, enthusiastic about the Lord, desirous to know God, applying spiritual truths, the other person seated right beside them, but not excited, not enthusiastic, making no application, never take a note, never carry a Bible to church.
They're just sort of there. What is the difference? The difference is real simple. The difference is in motivation. One person is motivated on his job, the other one is not.
One child is motivated, the other one is not. One believer is motivated, the other is not. Motivation is the drive that is within us.
It is that something within us that moves us, that stirs us, that punches our button, that gets us the moving. What does it take to drive you on the inside, to energize you, to stir you, to incite you on, to do the thing that you've told God that you're going to do? Well, in the life of Daniel, some incidences happen that give us what I believe are some very specific motivations in the area of our commitment. Now, you and I should say, well, you know, if you love the Lord Jesus Christ, that ought to be motivation enough. Well, that's true, but it appears that's not motivation enough, and God doesn't just use one form of motivation.
He uses many forms, and there are different aspects in which you and I look at life, and so we are motivated by different things, motivated by different aspects of our Christian life. So if you'll turn to Daniel chapter 1, we want to talk about this matter of motivation to commitment. And you'll recall that in chapter 1 verse 1, the Scripture says that Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had invaded Judah, taken Jehoakim, the king, away, and also had taken away into Babylon many of the fine young men who had described in verse 4, youth in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king's court. And he ordered him that is Ashpenas his servant, the king's servant, to teach them the literature and the language of the Chaldeans. And he appointed them also a certain menu, a daily ration from the king's choice food, from the wine which he drank, appointed that they should be educated three years.
At the end of this time, they were to enter the king's service. Now, among them were three young men plus Daniel, whom you know by name, Daniel, Hanani, Mishael, and Azariah that commanded the officials, changed their names, gave them new names. Daniel, he assigned the name Belt-Shazzar, Hananiah, Shadrach, Mishael, Meshach, and Azariah Abednego.
And we know those as the three Hebrew children who were thrown into the fiery furnace. Now, you need to know something about Nebuchadnezzar to understand the situation which Daniel finds himself. Nebuchadnezzar was a vile king. He was a barbarous kind of man. He was a despot. He was a pagan. He was a heathen. He was a murderer. In fact, in the 39th and 29th chapters of Jeremiah, as we read the kind of man he is, the scripture says that he took the king and killed his son right before him, and then he put his eyes out, put the king's eyes out and took him off to Babylon. One of his favorite ways of punishing his enemies would be to boil them slowly over hot flames.
So you can tell he's a man with no heart. So here is Daniel now and his three Hebrew friends among his other friends there who came from Judah. Here they are in the court of Nebuchadnezzar who had a split second, could take your life, and who was known for his murderous attitude and the quickness with which he could take your life. And so these four young men are confronted with defiling the Hebrew law, which they grew up with, as far as the forms of worship and who they would worship and how they would carry out their worship. And one of the regulations which they had received was one that dealt with what they were to eat and with how they were to worship and how they were to deal with all of this. So Daniel knew that the food offered to him and to his friends and the wine, this whole table, was dedicated to the gods of Babylon. So here's the problem he had. How were they to live holy lives, not to violate their conscience, to keep true to Jehovah God, who was the only God, and at the same time live in Babylon?
So they had one or two alternatives. They could say, well, we're just not going to do it. We believe in Jehovah God. You can do what you choose to us.
We're just not going to do it. But God gave Daniel and his friends the wisdom not to respond in that fashion. But Daniel, the Bible says in verse 8 here, that Daniel had purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king's choice food or with the wine which he drank so he sought permission from the command of the officials that he might not defile himself. Now the first motivation here that I want you to notice when it comes to obeying God or carrying out our commitment, I want you to think about something for a moment, and that is your devotion to Christ, your simple, personal, loving devotion to Jesus Christ.
One of the reasons at least that Daniel would not defile himself is because he was devoted to Jehovah God. Now to express devotion to God means that you honor him as the only true God, that you recognize him as the only true God, that you worship him as the only true God. You are loyal to him and to him alone as your God and that you express love toward him.
Let me ask you a question. What governs whether you live committed to God or not? Do you watch to see the way your friends are going or is your devotion to Jesus Christ like an anger that when you are blown in any direction, you just remain true to Jesus Christ for the simple reason that you're anchored to him by your loving devotion that is motivated in itself by your thanksgiving and praise for his saving you and keeping you as one of his own. Listen, Daniel had purposed in his heart not to defile his body, not to violate the laws of worship which he had learned as a young man. And so when he was challenged to violate the very things that his parents had taught him in his relationship to Jehovah God, the Bible says he purposed in his heart, he made up his mind regardless of the circumstances and the consequences, I shall obey God.
Have you ever at any given time said to almighty God, through your son Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit that indwells me, dear God, I shall obey you regardless of the consequences. That is a commitment and that is the lifestyle that God wants from all of us. That is, we're going to follow him regardless of our circumstances. Daniel chose to do that. He followed through on his commitment, motivated by loving devotion to almighty God. There's a second motivation I want you to see here and that is a motivation that is based on clear direction.
Now think about this for a moment. Daniel could have chosen to say, well, I'm just not going to do what you say do and more than likely in a matter of hours or less they would have taken his life. But as Daniel and his friends began to pray, God gave them an alternative, watch this, God gave them an alternative to violating the king's command which would have cost them their life. Now, having clear direction from God, he purposed in his heart. He was going to fulfill his commitment to almighty God regardless of the consequences.
He was committed to that. But in seeking the Lord, God gave him clear direction, here's what you oughta do. You approach Ashkenaz in a humble fashion, submissive to him and you ask permission.
That's what the Bible says. He asked permission of Ashkenaz to drink water and eat vegetables for 10 days. Now who convinced that king's servant? Who convinced him and persuaded him to allow these men to really in essence violate the king's command?
But at the same time, he was able to accomplish the same purpose and that is to become the kind of servants that the king would need. You see, he was motivated by clear direction. When God gives us very clear direction, unmistakably clear direction, that is a highly motivating factor in obeying God. This is why a life of prayer, a life of meditation and searching the word of God is so important. Because you see, if it is the habit of your life that each morning you spend some time listening to the Lord and praying to him and reading his word and seeking his face and seeking direction, God will give you unmistakably clear direction for your life. And when you know that you have the mind of God, it is amazing how that will motivate you to take risk in the eyes of the world, but it's never a risk on your part to be obedient to God. Daniel knew that God had spoken very clearly about what he was to do and so he was willing to risk his life by challenging in a humble fashion the command of the king through his servant, Ashpenaz. There's a third motivating factor here and that is the discovery of what God will do in your life.
Now think about this for a moment. Here is Daniel in a pagan society having been transferred all the way from Jerusalem over into Babylon. Totally different society, different language, different culture, different lifestyle. Worshipers of the pagan gods can see the evidence of their heathenism all around them.
How is he to live in this kind of a society? Daniel could have said, well, I guess it's all over Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And I'm sure they may have, that may have crossed their mind as they stood before the fiery furnace.
Well, they could have said, well, it's all over. What can we do? Here we are. Who are we among so many in this heathen, pagan, adulterous and idolatrous society?
What can we do? But Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego determined they would find out what God could and would do in their lives. And so they very wisely went about doing what was required of them in their educational process for these first three years in order to discover what God, what can Jehovah, Yahweh, Adonai, what can Elohim, what can he do with us in this society? Have you asked God that question about yourself lately? You say, well, I mean, you know, I'm only one. So was Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, only four of them.
They were each only one. Have you asked yourself the question lately, God, what could you do with me at this point in my life, in this society, if I yielded myself totally to you and withheld nothing from you, gave myself without reservation, God, what could you do with me? Does that excite you? Does that motivate you or have you already decided and put a lid and a clamp on what God, well, God can't do much with me, says who?
Well, look at my education. God's not interested in that. You know what God's interested in? God Almighty is interested in men and women who are willing to commit themselves to him without reservation and have the same sense of commitment that Daniel had. Lord God, I am committed to obeying you regardless of the consequences. That's the kind of people God's looking for. Have you ever made that decision?
Have you ever asked that question seriously about yourself? What can God do with you at this point in your life at this time? What can he do with you? What would he do with you?
Listen, the real question is not what can he do. The real question is what will he do if you make a commitment to obey him at this point in your life and from this point further by the power of the Holy Spirit and through the indwelling Christ who is your life? What will God do in and through your life if you follow through on your commitment to him?
And the truth is you don't know the answer to that. And I can remember the first time I was ever confronted with that in a major way. The Lord had challenged me to do something that I didn't want to do. Many times God will challenge us to do things we don't want to do, but the question is not whether I want to or not, but the ultimate question is did I or not? And I remember the time when he challenged me to do something that was very difficult, but I was afraid to be honest. I was just absolutely scared. I thought, God, I'll get fired.
This will be the end and this will be it. Well, he'd been listening to that now for about six months. Same prayer, same request, because I'd been praying about it about that long. That morning, just as clear as a bell, I will never forget what he said.
You have two alternatives. You can obey me, allow me to bless you, or you can choose to disobey me and spend the rest of your life wondering what I would have done with you had you obeyed me. And I want to tell you, that got my attention. Because I thought at that time in my life, and I was less than 30 years of age, oh, about 30, somewhere thereabouts, I thought, God, I can't spend the rest of my life wondering what you would have done had I obeyed you at this critical time.
Now, listen to me carefully. Sometimes God will confront you with something that does not appear to be a major crisis in your life. But if God confronts you and you have an alternative, you're going to have to make a choice. It may appear that you have many problems, but usually it's going to boil down to one or two, to obey or disobey. Don't just push to the side what appears to be a rather unimportant decision.
It could be the turning point in your life. Have you ever made the decision in your life that whatever God tells you to do, you're going to do it? I don't mean you'll always obey God and everything, but I'll tell you one thing. When you tell God, Lord, if I disobey, you put the pressure on, he knows how to put the pressure on. You see, he knows your heart, and he knows there are times when you really want to do his will, but either sometime you're not sure or we're just frightened. I don't know about you, but my friend, listen, I wouldn't want to live the rest of my life wondering what God would have done had I obeyed him when all of us, I believe, will agree that to obey God is always the wisest decision. Amen?
Now, we know that's true. It's always wiser to be obedient. But isn't it interesting, even though we know it's the wisest to be obedient, that sometimes we face circumstances, we want to be obedient, but we want to be obedient and avoid what God is requiring.
It won't work that way. So sometimes we are highly motivated by a desire to discover, Lord, what will you do in my life if I obey you at this time? And I could give you many examples of men who've come to me who've been challenged in their business and at what seemed to be a tremendous risk and demanding unbelievable faith and almost an impossible situation standing there at the crossroads, having to make a decision in their life, scared to death to do what they believe God's calling them to do, looking at what appears to be security and what appears to be no security when the real truth is, listen, the real truth is when you're obeying God, that's the only time in your life that you are secure. When a man faces that kind of a situation and he runs off the cliff and closes his eyes and jumps out into space and he goes down, what he must remember is this, that he's always going down in the palm of the sovereign hand of God, which means he's more secure.
His eyes close and going down the side of the mountain. He's more secure than when he's standing on solid ground, trusting in himself. You can't lose placing a trust in God. Thank you for listening to Motivation for Commitment. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by intouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
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