Ever Felt Like an Outsider?

Pray: Ask God to give you wisdom and insight to understand the Scripture that you are reading and the faith to live what He reveals to you.

Read: Daniel 1

Imagine what it would be like if our beloved country was conquered by an invading army this year? They parade through our canopy roads, enslaving us and shipping us off to a foreign land.  Utter defeat! It may sound crazy to us now but I’m sure Daniel had the same thought before King Nebuchadnezzar (aka Neb) brought him into captivity around 539 BC.

Daniel and his friends became outsiders overnight; forced to learn a new language, new customs, new diets and new values. Maybe you have felt like an outsider before? How about as a Christian? At work? With friends or family?

King Neb was trying to wipe away their identity and replace it with a different one.  He even changed their Hebrew names to idolatrous names honoring the gods of Babylon:

  • Daniel ("God is judge") became Belteshazzar (“Bel will protect")
  • Hananiah ("Yahweh is gracious") became Shadrach ("command of Aku")
  • Mishael ("Who is what God is") became Meshach ("Who is what Aku is")
  • Azariah ("Whom Yahweh helps") became Abednego ("Servant of Nego")

Daniel and crew had a choice to make: Will we be influencers or be influenced by the world around us? Which one would you be? Which one are you now in our city?

Following Jesus is hard! As the culture shifts around us, Christianity is becoming more marginalized and we are facing more temptation to compromise in our faith. This is happening right now in Tallahassee. We are tempted to give in to peer pressure, fudge our faith at work, and ‘coexist’ our gospel message. Daniel felt this temptation as well.

So how did Daniel remain faithful to God in such an oppressive environment? How will you this week? You’ve got to recognize that God is sovereignly in control over your circumstances (as seen in Vs. 2,9 & 12). Your struggle at work, your scary doctor’s diagnosis, a strained marriage or pressure to cave to temptation; none of these are without purpose or too big for God. Second, in light of God’s sovereignty, you’ve got to resolve in your heart (Vs. 8) to be a faithful influencer for Jesus in our city.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Will I influence the world around me or be influenced by it?
  2. What threatens my identity in Christ and my ability to follow Jesus in the world this week?
  3. Where have you seen the sovereignty and goodness of God at work in your life in the midst of struggle?

Memorize: Daniel 1:8