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Exiles as Missionaries – Lesson 5

Daniel-BibleI tried to imagine the setting of our topic for this week on Exiles as Missionaries. I tried to picture Daniel, his three companies and many others being forcibly rounded up to be taken from their homeland as captives. The homes they lived in, the streets they played on, the schools they learned in, the temples they worshiped in, all now gone. Their nation was decimated by a powerful foe and the life they had known until then was now gone forever. The word monumental does not do justice to how life changing this event was.

One could easily justify Daniel and his companions choosing a strategy to go along to get along. No one, in an adversarial situation, wants to make waves and bring the spotlight upon themselves. Many would say when in Rome do as the Romans and find an excuse to deviate from prior practices and customs. But not Daniel. It was a matter of principle.

“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8

Principles – that guiding sense of right conduct, was so real to Daniel that even in captivity he would be true to them. We say amen to Daniel’s courage and adherence to his principles but we must remember he was a captive. It was one thing to purpose in his own heart but another thing for those in charge of him to accept his request.

As revealing as his inward purpose was, his outward relationship with the prince of the eunuchs was equally telling about the type of person Daniel was. And this was key to Daniel and his companions being able to effect the requested change.

“Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.” Daniel 1:9

That could not have happened by accident and we would miss a lot about being a missionary were we to gloss over this text. This one line of scripture is revealing about the conduct of Daniel as a captive. Without knowing the hows we can safely conclude that Daniel possessed social skills that were attractive rather than repulsive. Kindness begets kindness, compassion begets compassion and love begets love.

What a powerful combination of graces that Daniel possessed. His devotion to God was unshakable. His understanding of the importance of sound health was undeniable. And his people skills were unassailable. Daniel had the complete package. Egypt didn’t make Daniel; Egypt only revealed the man who Daniel was.

While we celebrate Daniel and his faithful companions, we must remember the unsung heroes of this story. Long before Daniel faced the temptations of a lifetime, he had been instructed and raised in a way that prepared him for his moment on the grand stage of life.

It’s often said that it takes a village to raise a child. For Daniel the unsung heroes of his story must include the parents that taught their son the importance of principles over inclination. This could not have happened by chance. There had to be intentional, meaningful training given to this young lad. Social skills of kindness, care, compassion and manners are best learned in the home. God bless godly homes.

Beyond the primary impact on the life of Daniel by his parents, I would like to think that his teachers outside of his home contributed to the man that he became. We all know the role that teachers have played in the development of not only great men and women but in the lives of ordinary people who possess good morals and become contributing members of society. The value of teachers can never be fully appreciated this side of heaven.

For us, we can play a part in the life of future Daniels. We each have the opportunity to help prepare the youth of today for the roles they will play in life tomorrow. Our example of adhering to either principle or following inclinations is one that is being watched closely by young eyes.

Our encounters with others and our discussions around our dinner tables have an influence on how the youth in our spheres of influence will interact with others along the way. Will they like Daniel have learned not only guiding principles but also the kindness and love that Christ enjoins upon us all? We should purpose in our hearts that we will be the unsung heroes in the lives of the youth around us. Who knows, we may be helping to raise the next Daniel or Danielle right now.

Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:

  • What does the word “principle” mean to you?
  • What, if any, is the difference between a principle and a belief?
  • Is it true that the healthier one eats, the better a Christian they will become? Why yes or no?
  • Is it true that as long as one loves God, they are free to indulge in harmful health practices? Explain your answer.
  • List five principles that you believe all followers of Christ must adhere to.
  • Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: The most important part of witnessing is the message and not necessarily the demeanor of the purpose giving the message. Explain your answer.

We close this week with the words of Mordecai to Esther. We usually find comfort in these words during momentous times in our lives. But they can be equally applied to our role as unsung heroes in the lives of the youth around us.

“And who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Esther 4:14

Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!

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photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

The Jonah Saga – Lesson 4

We would do more for God if only He expected less from us. Jonah is a case in point.

Jonah on the beach“Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.” Jonah 1:1-2

It was a remarkable command that was given to Jonah. He was not asked to go to a certain church within a large city, and preach a stirring message. Nor was he asked to organize a team to methodically evangelize a huge metropolis. Jonah was commanded to single-handedly warn the entire city of Nineveh of the impending judgements of God upon them. Just one man to warn a city of thousands. Just who did God think Jonah was?

This week as we contemplate The Jonah Saga, we can’t help but to see ourselves throughout this short story. From its very beginning we are confronted with the reality that God expects more out of us than we believe we are capable of doing. Like many before us, we hear the direction from God to go forward but we are paralyzed by our own self-doubts. Surely God cannot really want us to do such great things for Him.

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

Isaiah 40:8

photo by Curtis Hall

The Unlikely Missionary – Lesson 3

The proof is in the pudding. That’s a common saying that has morphed into meaning you must actually try the food in order to know if it’s good or not. This week as we talk about The Unlikely Missionary, we will focus our attention on the proof of the pudding.

Art by Ferdinand Bol

Art by Ferdinand Bol

The story of Naaman is one that many of us first learned in our Cradle Roll classes during Sabbath School. There’s even an old gospel song about Naaman going down into the Jordan seven times. Check it out on Youtube.This quarter we have the luxury to examine the lives of biblical Missionaries. Each story, while unique, will have some striking similarities with the others. The one we will look at today is the result of an encounter with someone who is in touch with God.

The chain of events that led to Naaman’s cleansing began with a servant girl. She’s notable for several reasons. First of all, she cared enough. She was a slave girl taken from her home, yet she displayed the attributes of care and concern that is vital to being a missionary for God.

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

Crucified and Risen – Lesson 13

Book of Luke“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,…”

This is a part of the opening sentence of the classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. Written to indicate the opposing factors of the author’s subject, this line could aptly describe the tensions that existed during the period of this week’s study on Crucified and Risen.