Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
Just as there is benefit from rubbing two iron blades together – resulting in sharpening and making them more productive and efficient in their task of cutting, we too are “sharpened” through our relationships with others. The Quest Bible Commentary describes this verse this way: “This expression has to do with personality. People sharpen each other through exchanging information, discussing issues and critiquing each other’s ideas. Different people can bring different perspectives and strengths to a discussion.” While the sharpening process may be stretching and even uncomfortable at times, true friends sharpen each other in a way that is loving, productive and restorative…yet another benefit of living intentionally in community with people the way God intended. -Love God Greatly – Made for Community
9/27 – See You at the Pole
Remember to take attendance through the email you receive weekly and before the end of the night. Thank you!
Please make it a priority to be at the wherehouse by 6:30pm to go over the details of the evening and to pray together. Send a message through GroupMe or text Kevin at 217-4784 if you’ll be late or won’t be there.
We live in a world where, slowly but surely, the lines of morality are being blurred—or completely jumped over. How do we continue to stand up as Christians when the world is moving in the opposite direction? How can we be the light of Christ to this world? What happens when it comes down to you standing up for Christ by yourself?
Story: Daniel and His Friends Brought to Babylon
Topic: What does it mean to be set apart? Don’t conform to the culture, but be set apart.
Scripture: Daniel 1:6-16/Romans 12:1-2
Story: The Fiery Furnace
Topic: Maintaining your Christianity even when it’s not popular; not selling out, not worshipping other gods like money, boyfriends/girlfriends, and self.
Scripture: Daniel 3:4-27, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, John 15:18
Story: Daniel and the Lions’ Den
Topic: What do you really believe? Do you believe it enough to suffer for it? Will you stand for Christ even in the midst of persecution?
Scripture: Daniel 6:1-24, 1 Peter 4:16, 2 Corinthians 12:10, John 15:20
Story: Steven Being Stoned
Topic: How well do you know God, the Bible. Will you stand against false beliefs, and compromises in faith?
Scripture: Acts 7:1-60, 2 Timothy 4:1-5
Week 1 – Standing Against Culture
Who here has ever moved? Where is the farthest you have moved?
How many of you guys are good in social situations where you know a bunch of people? What about situations where you don’t know a bunch of people?
For me, it depends. I can be super outgoing at times, or other times I will keep to myself, kind of unsure, not knowing what to say.
During the next few weeks, we’re going to looking at the story of Daniel in the Bible. Here’s a little background on Daniel … Israel had split up as a country. They had a sort of civil war. Over time, the two kingdoms of Israel kept turning further and further away from God. God would warn them, and yet they wouldn’t listen.
So finally, God removed his protection from them. When he did that, one of the kingdoms—Judah—was attacked by a nation called Babylon. The army came through and besieged Judah and carted off important items, things that were worth a good amount of money, and healthy working Jewish boys. They took in these boys and trained them to be officials within Babylon. These boys would get the best food, good money, and housing. The goal was for these boys to influence Judah to not fight back against Babylon.
Our story starts off with four boys: Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael. They were among the captives who were taken.
Imagine being in Daniel’s shoes: this wasn’t just moving … he was a hostage, a captive. Sure he was treated well, but it was a new place, a new culture, a new everything.
Daniel 1:6-10 (NLT)
6 Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were four of the young men chosen, all from the tribe of Judah. 7 The chief of staff renamed them with these Babylonian names:
Daniel was called Belteshazzar.
Hananiah was called Shadrach.
Mishael was called Meshach.
Azariah was called Abednego.
8 But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods. 9 Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel. 10 But he responded, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has ordered that you eat this food and wine. If you become pale and thin compared to the other youths your age, I am afraid the king will have me beheaded.”
So Daniel is in this new place, with a new name, and great food … but he doesn’t eat it. Why do you think he refused the food?
Here he is in this new place as a captive, and yet he chooses to refuse the food, because it had been sacrificed to Idols. The whole culture was eating it, he was ordered to eat it (in fact, by refusing he and his friends could have been killed)–and yet he chose not to.
We are talking about a really important topic over the next couple of weeks. If you look at the world we are living in, it’s getting a bit crazy. Things that once were taboo are now becoming the norm.
For example, when I was growing up, homosexuality wasn’t even talked about too much. Some people brought it up once in awhile, and that was about it. Now it’s talked about everywhere. Those who wanted to look at pornography had to go to shady, creepy places to buy magazines. Now you just have to turn on your computer. Before, you would hear awful stories from far-off countries about young girls taken as slaves and sold as prostitutes. Now, the Super Bowl is one of the biggest days for human traffickers in America. Growing up, I would hear stories about people sneaking some illegal drugs to school and what would happen to them. Now, you guys live in a world where drugs like marijuana are becoming legal in some states.
People used to look at Christianity with favor—a good guy or girl was someone who lived by Christian values. Now, Christians are often told to keep their views to themselves, or else they will be labeled as bigots.
The world is changing, and more and more, the things that were unspeakable when I was growing up are becoming the norm.
The question is, will you stand when the world tries to knock you down? And if so, what will you stand for?
How do you stand as a Christian when Christianity is being flushed down the toilet?
We face the same issue that Daniel and his friends dealt with. The culture is telling us one thing: “It’s OK to do these things.” and yet we know that according to the Bible, we shouldn’t be doing them.
So how did Daniel make it through? Here are three things Daniel did to stand up against the culture.
- Daniel stood even though others didn’t.
There were a lot of captives in Daniel’s boat. These four weren’t the only ones. There might have been more than 100 captives who were taken with Daniel. All of these boys had the same belief system. They had been raised the same way and knew the same God. Yet Daniel and his three friends were the only ones who chose not to eat the food that had been sacrificed to idols.
No one likes to stand alone. No one likes to be by themselves. But as this world slips further away from God, we are going to be put on the spot a lot more. Sadly, as time has gone on, I’ve seen this happen. Some of my friends, people I grew up with—even other pastors—have turned from what they believe and have accepted other things. They have gone with the culture because they don’t want to stand out.
There have also been times when, because I believe what the Bible says and stand by it, my friends have criticized me and mocked my beliefs. If you are going to be a Christian who stands up for God, there are going to be times when you feel alone, where it seems like everyone around you has turned away from God. But we can’t stop standing just because others choose to sit down.
- Daniel had support.
If that first point was depressing, but this one might cheer you up. Daniel found support in a few of his friends. Sure, they were the only few who were doing it, but they did it together. That’s why it is so important for you to come to church and to mid week worship, so that you can build friendships with each other.
In the end, you are never alone. This is a place where you get to learn about God and have fun with other Christians. But it’s also a place where you get to lift each other up. Sure, it might feel like you are the only Christians at your school. You might be the only person on your team not going to that party. But you are surrounded by other Christians who are standing with you.
- Daniel stuck with his choice.
11 Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 12 “Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,” Daniel said. 13 “At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s food. Then make your decision in light of what you see.” 14 The attendant agreed to Daniel’s suggestion and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king. 16 So after that, the attendant fed them only vegetables instead of the food and wine provided for the others.
This story has a happy ending. God blesses Daniel. But here is the important part that we will touch on more during the next couple weeks: Daniel didn’t finish the test and say, “Phew, that was good! I passed!” and then eat a turkey sandwich. Daniel and his friends made a choice and stuck with it as long as they were in Babylon. That means they chose to be vegetarians and eat that way, probably for the rest of their lives.
Sometimes, we stand up against something. Actions, choices, music, computer junk
Am I saying you need to delete all your music? No! Am I saying you need to stop watching all movies unless they are rated G and have cute, talking animals? No!
What I am saying is that if you know something is wrong, make a stand. But realize that it will be a sacrifice, because you may have to make that stand for the rest of your life. If you know something is biblically wrong no matter what others say, stand up for it! But don’t ever stop standing up for it. Christians are notorious for that. They boycott something for a week, and then go back to it.
This reminds me of a story from China during the 1970s.Communist soldiers had discovered an illegal Bible study. As the Pastor was reading from the Bible, men with guns suddenly broke into the home, terrorizing the believers who had gathered to worship. They shouted insults and threatened to kill the Christians. The leading officer pointed his gun at the pastor’s head. “Hand me your Bible,” he demanded.
Reluctantly, the pastor handed over his Bible, his prized possession. With a sneer on his face, the guard threw the Bible to the floor. He glared at the small congregation. “We will let you go,” he growled, “but first you must spit on this book of lies. Anyone who refuses will be shot.”
The believers had no choice but to obey the officer’s order. A soldier pointed his gun at one of the men. “You first.” The man slowly got up and knelt down by the Bible. Reluctantly, he spat on it, praying, “Father, please forgive me.” He stood up and walked to the door. The soldiers stood back and allowed him to leave.
“Okay, you!” the soldier said, nudging a woman forward. In tears, she could barely do what he demanded. She spat only a little, but it was enough. She too was allowed to leave.
Quietly, a young girl came forward. Overcome with love for her Lord, she knelt down and picked up the bible. She wiped off the spit with her dress. “What have they done to your Word? Please forgive them,” she prayed. The Communist soldier put his pistol to her head and pulled the trigger.
This young girl refused to go along with culture. She knew in her heart this was wrong. Even though others chose to turn and go along with the culture, she didn’t. She made a stand, and it cost her, but she made it anyway.
In the end, Daniel made a choice to stand for what was right—even though the culture said it’s no big deal. We live in a time when our culture is saying, “It’s no big deal .. you just need to compromise.” But as Christians, we need to stand up for what is right and say, “No, I won’t compromise!” Don’t go crazy, and don’t get violent. But as Christians, we need to stand up and stand for Christ even when the Culture is pushing back on us.
Have you compromised? Have you not stood up when you should have? It’s not too late to turn it around and make a stand for Christ.
This should give you a great springboard for conversation. Take time to come up with a few questions and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you prepare.
Scripture of Focus
But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king.
- What is one thing that stood out to you in this passage?
- Why do you think it stood out to you?
- What can you apply to your life from this passage?
Close in prayer