Imitate Daniel    
1 Thess. 5:4-11
By Paul Robison
(A message for our Seniors presented along with those of
Bro. Howard Taylor, Bro. Lynn Vanderveer, and Bro. Billy King)

When we were working in Italy, my mother would conclude her weekly letters: “Keep smiling and stay on that winning team!”  Someone observes: “A man without convictions is a tramp on the road that leads to the land of nowhere” (Unknown).  Our convictions are important because they shape our actions, and our actions are important because they shape our eternity.  Four teenage Jewish young men understood these truths as they were being carried away into Babylonian captivity.  One of these young men was Daniel, and he exhibits four traits that all young people should imitate.
 
First of all, show a committed heart!  Look at 1:8: “[Daniel] purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies ...” (1:8).  What was wrong with eating the king's food and drink?  There are several sins involved here: the meat most likely had been offered to idols; the meat was probably saturated in blood; the meat likely came from unclean animals.  The wine probably had a very high alcoholic content which could easily lead to drunkenness.  Daniel's knowledge of God's law caused him to act differently than others. Because Daniel knew God's truths, he made a serious resolve that he would not defile himself with the king's diet.  So, Daniel proposes another diet, and he later is given permission to keep using it!  Daniel had a committed heart.  Daniel determined that daily participation in sin wouldn't be a part of his life.  Even though he was away from Israel, he would still be devoted to obeying God's Word.  One commentator said: “Here's a young man away from home, but he makes a purpose!  I wish to God that all our young [people] who are away from home would make purposes not to defile themselves” (McGuiggan).  So, young people, show a committed heart to imitate Daniel!
 
Next, show a helping hand.  In chapter 2, King Nebuchadnezzar had a disturbing dream, and he wants the dream to be interpreted.  The trouble was, however, that the king could not remember the dream, so he wants his wise men to tell him the dream as well as interpret it.  He then threatens to kill all the wise men if they fail to obey him, and this includes Daniel and his friends.  Daniel immediately springs into action: he goes to the king and begs for a little time, then he goes to his friends and asks them to pray, and then he goes to bed.  And as he slept, God revealed the King's dream to him.  Then Daniel returns once again to the king.  Now let's notice 2:28: “But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days.”  Daniel is concerned about the welfare of others, and he takes a great risk in going before the king himself.  What would have happened to him if he had not interpreted the dream?  Someone has noted: “Where did this teenager get his confidence?  How could it have entered his mind that given enough time he would be able to discover the dream and the meaning of it?  That's right, he knew the source of all wisdom” (McGuiggan)!  Because Daniel had a strong faith in God, he was able to risk his own life as he went personally before the king.  Listen closely to this: “Service to a just cause that helps others rewards the worker with more real happiness and satisfaction than any other venture in life” (Catt).  Show a helping hand to imitate Daniel!
 
Next, show an excellent spirit.  Look now at 6:3-4: “Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him, and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm. So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him.”  Daniel was now about 80 years old, and he had been working in a public office for some 60 years.  Now with a career that long, you'd think Daniel would have made some major mistakes.  But when Daniel's enemies searched the records, nothing could be found to use against him!  One commentator notes: “[His adversaries] searched well, but not only was he honest in his dealings, he was capable in his job. ... Ah, if we only had more of these, both in politics and in the service of Christ our Lord” (McGuiggan)!  Someone encourages us with this little poem: “Good, better, best, never let it rest—until your good is better, and your better becomes your best” (Hepburn in Swindoll)! Colossians 3:23 exhorts us: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ!” “If brilliance is silver, an excellent spirit is gold” (McGuiggan)!  Show an excellent spirit to imitate Daniel!
 
Next, show a prayerful life.  Daniel's enemies were sharp enough to figure out that they would have to attack Daniel's religion in order to get him to trouble.  So they talk King Darius into signing a decree that all in his kingdom should pray only to him during a 30 day period.  The king didn't realize the trap that was being set and signed the decree.  Now look at 6:10: “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home.  And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.”  Did you notice those last few words, “as was his custom since early days”?  You see, young people, Daniel got started early in his career and set aside three times each day to pray.  Maybe that’s why his career was flawless!  Someone notes: “As soon as the document had been signed, Daniel knew that he had been framed.  If the possibility occurred to him that he could change his prayer routine, or pray without appearing to do so, it was dismissed as out of the question.  He steadily continued his lifelong habit of regular prayer, as his accusers expected he would” (Baldwin).  Did you hear that?  Daniel had a lifelong habit of regular prayer.  Young people, find your upper room and your times of day so that you can regularly talk to God!  Did you know that the divorce rate for couples who regularly pray together is 1 out of 400 (Dobson)!  Stamp this on your heart: Life is fragile; handle with prayer!  Show a prayerful life to imitate Daniel!
 
Daniel and his friends had convictions and lived their lives to please God! Young people, as you leave the nest and launch out on your own, show a committed heart, show a helping hand, show an excellent spirit, and show a prayerful life!  Imitate Daniel's outstanding life!  At the crossroads of life, remember your convictions and proclaim: “I am for the Lord, and heaven is my destination!” 
 
If Jesus is not your Lord today, why not make that decision this morning? Decide to get out of the sinning business, confess that you believe that Jesus is God's divine Son, and clothe yourself with Christ in the waters of baptism as you die to yourself and rise to live anew following all to His teachings!  Get on His winning team now!