5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.
6 Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. 9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your[a] food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”
11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.
When I was in college there was a young lady that I would see on occasion walking across the quad, in the cafeteria, in gospel choir practice, or in the student union. And every time that I would see her my heart would skip a beat, my pulse would race, and my palms would get all sweaty. So one day I finally got up the nerve to ask her out, but I camouflaged the invitation as a meeting of friends. She still had no idea how much I was into her. But anyway, I asked her if I could cook dinner for her, and she said yes. So we set a time and I was on cloud nine, but I was as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. The day came and I prepared a meal. I cleaned my dorm room and got everything in order. At the appointed time I walked to her dorm and picked her up. As we walked to my room we had a casual conversation. When we got to the room I open the door and to her surprise there was a candlelight dinner waiting for her, Kenny G playing in the background, and a romantic scene set before her eyes. As we ate there was a knock on the door, and one of my friends delivered a dozen red roses. I think my intentions were becoming clear to her. So we ate, we watched one of the greatest movies of all time (Braveheart), and we danced. At the end of the night I walked her to her dorm, gave her a hug, and handed her a poem that I had written for her. And then I said one of the corniest lines in history, “in the words of Babyface, when can I see you again?” Well the line must not have been too corny because I did get to see her again. We became really good friends. She became my girlfriend. Today she is my wife of 18 years. The mother of my children, and my very best friend. But I said all that to say this, if I would have never taken the risk to ask Shannon out, I would have never reaped the rewards of this blessed life that we share together. She is and shall forever be my boo! And this is relevant to almost every area of our lives. There is no reward without risk. But many people don’t take risks. Many people think that the risks are just not worth the rewards. Let me share with you three reasons why people don’t take risks. Now this is my A-B-C, not my 1-2-3.
First of all people don’t take risks because they like to play it safe. They like to keep it close to the chest like the servant that decided to bury his talent opposed to investing it or putting it in the bank to earn interest. He played it safe and missed out on his blessing.
Secondly people don’t take risks because they are skeptical. They don’t trust the system or they think somebody is out to get them. These are the type of people that ask a lot a questions. Talk real big, but never do anything.
These are the people that sleep with one eye open.
They are suspicious of everything.
They are conspiracy theorists and talk about the man and how big brother is watching.
They are skeptical.
And thirdly, people don’t take risk because they are scared. They are simply afraid.
They don’t want to be fooled.
They don’t want to be hustled.
They don’t want to be bamboozled.
They don’t want to be hoodwinked.
They don’t want to be taken advantage of.
They don’t want to be embarrassed.
They don’t want to trust.
They are scared.
But God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and of a sound mind.
But there truly are not any rewards without risk and many of you know exactly what I’m talking about.
You took a risk to go back to school.
You took a risk to start that business.
You took a risk when you got married.
You took a risk when you went to that job interview.
You took a risk when you applied for the loan.
You took a risk when you went to that new barber.
Your took a risk when you went to that new hair dresser.
You took the risk when you did the big chop and went natural with your hair style.
You took a risk when you gave your life to Christ and now you are reaping the rewards and this is exactly what happened in our text today.
When King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Jerusalem he gave strict instructions to bring back, to capture, to kidnap the best of the best. The brightest of the brightest. The cream of the crop.
And among these men were Daniel, whom they called Belteshazzar, Hananiah, whom they called Shadrach, Mishael, whom they called Meshach, and Azariah, whom they called Abednego. These men were placed under the care of a Eunuch named Ashpenaz. And the Eunuch was instructed to give all the men a daily portion of the the king’s meat, and the kings wine in order to nourish them for three years so that they could stand before the king. Now among these men were Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And Daniel purposed in is his heart not to defile himself with the king’s meat or the king’s wine. Somebody say risk. Now Daniel had already found favor with the prince of the eunuchs, and the eunuch noticed that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not eating the king’s meat or drinking the king’s wine. And the eunuch attempts to persuade them to eat, but they refused. Then Daniel said to the prince of the eunuchs please test your servants for ten days, give us nothing but vegetables for food and water to drink (this is where we get the Daniel fast from). Then compare our appearance with the young men that eat the king’s food, and you can treat us according to what you see. So he agreed and tested them in ten days. At the end of ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than the young men that ate the king’s food. So the Eunuch took away their choice food and gave them vegetables to eat and water to drink. These four men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. At the end of three years, the king talked with them and found none equal to Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. So they entered the king’s service. Somebody say reward! In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.
So as you can see the risks are worth the rewards. So what’s so great about these rewards? I am so glad that you asked.
The rewards are structured. What in the world are you talking about Pastor Brian. The rewards are set up in such a manner that they meet us right at our point of need. Structure means to construct or arrange according to a plan. To give pattern or organization. We serve a God of order and he even orders our rewards. The scripture said that God gave them knowledge, and skill in learning and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. He structured their rewards. You have to have knowledge before wisdom and you have to have the skill to learn which leads to wisdom. So these rewards are structured in three ways.
First, the rewards are steady. In other words, they keep on coming. They are consistent, continual, frequent, repeated, recurrent,
recurring, intermittent. There is a regular flow of rewards.
Lamentations 3:22-23 states, Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness. The rewards are like the energizer bunny they keep coming and coming and coming.
But not only are the rewards steady but the rewards stack up. Its blessings upon blessings upon blessings upon blessings. He did not just give Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego knowledge.
He gave them skill.
He gave them learning.
He gave them wisdom.
And he gave Daniel understanding of visions and dreams.
And he gave them favor with the king.
He gave them prominent positions in the kingdom of a foreign land! In a foreign land in which they were originally prisoners.
Blessings upon blessings upon blessings upon blessings.
Does anybody know what I’m talking about this morning?
Every time I turn around he’s making a way!
The rewards are steady, the rewards stack up, and the rewards stand the test of time. They are like a Chevy Deacon Freeman, built to last. Like a rock! How could these rewards not stand the test of time when our hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness? I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name. On Christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand. The rewards stand the test of time.
First the rewards are structured and secondly the rewards prepare us to serve. You see the rewards are not just for us. The rewards prepare us to be used by God. Or in the case of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego the rewards prepared them to serve the king. And they did so to the best of their abilities. I think we forget that we are here to serve and not to be served. If we are Christians which means Christ like or following in the footsteps of Christ. We should be serving. Jesus said I did not come to be serve but to serve. That is why he gave us the example or ordinance of foot washing. Because if Jesus, the Son of God, God in the flesh could wash the disciples nasty, dirty, stinking feet. We should have no problem serving. That is why we are going to love God and love people. Because that’s what we’re supposed to do. We are prepared to serve because of three reasons.
We are selected for the rewards. Just like Daniel and the three Hebrew boys were selected to serve the king. We all were selected as well. In other words we were all chosen. We talked about this last week, but I just want to know if there is anyone in the house today that is excited about the fact that God selects us. The king of kings and the Lord of lords chooses you. He chooses me. And I remember what it feels like not to be chosen. So I give God praise for selecting me.
So we are selected for the rewards and then the rewards supply us. He will supply all of our needs according to his riches in glory. Isn’t that what happens to the Hebrew boys. God supplies them with food, water, shelter.
They are in a foreign land.
They could be locked up.
They could be on the street.
They could be begging.
But God supplies all of their physical needs and then blesses them with knowledge, learning, skills, wisdom, and understanding of visions and dreams. Think of all the ways the Lord supplies us! Has he supplied you with anything today? Give God praise for the supply. As a matter of fact, God has supplied you with more than you need! So give God praise for the overflow!
We are selected for the rewards, the rewards supply us, and then the rewards surround us. Think about this for a moment. I already told you that they were in a foreign land.
They were immigrants.
They where illegal aliens.
They were refugees.
They were P.O.W.’s prisoners of war!
But because of the rewards of God they found favor with the king and they were surrounded.
They were protected.
They became the king’s chief advisors and no one could touch them.
They were surrounded.
They had clout and power.
They were surrounded.
They were in protective custody.
They were surrounded.
And I don’t know about you but I am so glad that God surrounds me.
He surrounds me with his love.
He surrounds me with his presence.
He surrounds me with his power.
He surrounds me with his grace
He surrounds me with his mercy
He surrounds me with his peace
He surrounds me with his joy
Is anybody excited about the fact that God surrounds us
First the rewards are structured. Secondly the rewards prepare us to serve, and last but not least the rewards surpass our expectations. I am sure that these Hebrew boys were expecting the worse. I mean they knew that God was able to do anything but fail. But I would bet, if I was a betting man, a half dollar, that never in a million years did these boys think that they would be elevated in Babylon the way that they were elevated.
All because they took a risk and decided not to defile themselves by eating the king’s food.
They took a stand.
And if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything. Well these four Hebrew boys took a risk and the rewards surpassed every one of their expectations. That is why Paul told the church in Ephesus, “Now unto him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that is within us.” The rewards surpassed their expectations for three reasons.
They were set apart. By choosing not to defile themselves by eating the king’s food this set them apart from the other men. By not eating the food the Bible said that they looked healthier and more nourished then the other men. This set them apart. And if you are going to be used by the king you have to be set apart. You have to be different. You have to be unique. That is why Peter says in 1 Peter 2:9 you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession. That you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. We must be set a part.
Because when we are set apart we can be set up. You see when Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were set apart they were set up to be used by the king.
They were set up to advise the king.
They were set up to assist the king.
They were set up to help the king.
They were set up for knowledge.
They were set up for learning.
They were set of for skill.
They were set up for wisdom.
They were set up for understanding.
What is God setting you up for today?
And because they were set a part, they were set up, and because they were set up they were able to set the stage. What are you talking about preacher? Well anyone in show business knows how important it is to set the stage.
The scenery has to be just right.
The props have to be just right.
The lights have to be just right.
The sound has to be just right.
And then the show will be just right.
Well because these four Hebrew boys were set apart they were set up and able to set the stage, because once they found favor with the king they were able to show him the God that they serve. All because they took a risk. They reaped the ultimate reward of sharing their faith. So you’ve been set apart. You have been set up. They stage is set, and the show must go on. It’s time to share your faith. Take the risk and reap the reward of introducing someone to God. I guarantee the reward is worth the risk!
Let me share a story with you…
Life as a single mother was never going to be easy, yet she had chosen to go down the path less travelled. Most people choose a life of ease and comfort, but not Amaya. At every step of the way in her life, she had to choose between two things, and none of those decisions had been easy.
Growing up with a single mother, Amaya understood the scrutiny that particular group of women faced. Her mother had been her strength and she had been her mother’s strength. When she decided to adopt baby Mira, her mother had stood by her as a rock.
For the last five years, she had divided her time between her home and office. Working in the corporate world was a necessity, even though her passion and interest lay somewhere else. The recent recession, however was threatening this stability in her life. The company was talking about lay offs and the first to go would be the Marketing Department. She was a mid-level executive, and had no leverage to save her job unlike the top-level executives. She had predicted that this letter would arrive any moment now.
Her instincts hadn’t been wrong. However, the company was considerate enough to provide a severance package. The money from the severance package would support her little family. Her mother needed a knee operation and Mira was growing up and she wanted her daughter to have the best of everything.
That day when she went home, she sat down with a tired sigh. Her mother brought her a cup of tea, and asked, “What is the matter? You look unusually tired.”
“I just got laid off, along with fifty other people in the office. “
“You are a talented girl. I am sure you will find better opportunities.”
“But the market Maa. The recession is affecting every big company. Remember Ahana, Rohit and Siya? They were laid off last week too. I don’t know what to do next.”
“Amaya, have you thought about what I told you last week? Maybe it is time for you to create your own path. Take this as a sign that you are meant to do other things in life.”
A tired Amaya just nodded her head, not wanting to dwell on it at the moment. Later that night, sleep eluded her. Maa’s words echoed in her head. Maybe it was time to think seriously about starting her bakery. She had been baking cakes for all of her close friends and even some of Mira’s classmates.
After spending the entire night tossing and turning, she had made up her mind. She was going to use half the money from the severance package to officially launch her business. No one was happier than Mira that morning, her mommy was going to bake cakes, what could be more fun than that.’
Five years later, The Bake Shop had become a force to reckon with in the baking business. The risk Amaya had taken had paid off. Even though the first six months had been a struggle, her business had eventually taken off. Word of mouth meant she did not even have to spend money marketing. She put all her time and energy into learning new techniques and perfecting old ones. Her biggest joy was Mira, who had already started learning how to bake. She had inspired her daughter and that was her biggest achievement.
Now I don’t know what your dream is but without risk there is no reward.
I don’t know what you’re hoping for but without risk there is no reward.
I don’t know what you’re praying for but without risk there is no reward.
I don’t know what you’re waiting for but without risk there is no reward.
I don’t know the desires of your heart but without risk there is no reward.
I don’t know what’s holding you back but without risk there is no reward.
I don’t know why you’re playing it safe for but without risk there is no reward.
I don’t know what you’re skeptical about but without risk there is no reward.
I don’t know what you’re scared of but without risk there is no reward.
If you want the reward you have to take a leap of faith.
If you want the reward you have to think outside of the box.
If you want the reward you have to step outside of your comfort zone.
If your want the reward you have to take the risk.
If you don’t believe me let me show you.
Come here Noah, he took a risk and built an Ark when it had never ever rain before and he saved his family, the animals, and generations to come.
Come here Abraham, he took a risk and left his father heading towards a promise land that he never heard of. Was told that his wife would conceive at the age of 90, he continued to take a risk by having faith. And that son was born. Then God said sacrifice your son. And he took another risk and went to sacrifice his son, but God provided a ram in the bush and because of his risk he is known as the father of our faith.
Come here David, he took the risk of fighting Goliath, and reaped the rewards of becoming the greatest king in history.
Come here Moses, he took the risk of going back to Egypt after committing murder and going to Pharaoh and saying let my people go, and leading the Israelites out of captivity.
But it was not just the men who took risks….
Come here Hannah, she took a risk of praying so hard that the priest thought she was drunk, and God blessed her with a son.
Come here Ruth who took a risk and stayed with her mother-in-law after her husband died and married Boaz, their kinsman redeemer
Come here Esther, who went to the king, and said if I perish let me perish and saved her people from destruction…..
And this is just a few from the Old Testament.
Come here Peter who had the audacity to step out of the boat and walk on water.
Come here Paul who risked preaching the Gospel after condemning Christians and wrote most of the New Testament.
Come here James who took the risk of not standing on the fact the he was Jesus’s brother but knew that faith without works is dead.
Come here Stephan who took the risk of preaching so hard that the Jewish leaders stoned him and in the midst of his persecution saw the heavens open up and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.
Come here Jesus who risked his life to reap the reward of winning our souls
So you can’t tell me that the risk is not worth the reward.
So if you want that job you better take that risk.
You want that house.
You want that degree.
You want that business.
You want that position.
You want that promotion.
You want that car.
You want to start that ministry.
You want to accept your call.
You want to witness on your job.
You want that marriage.
You want that friendship.
You want your healing.
You want to be used by the Lord then you are going to have to take that risk.
You have nothing to lose, but you have everything to gain. Without risk there is no reward!
And here is the best part, even if we risk it all and fail, Jesus is right there to catch us, and just like he did for Job, he will give us double for our trouble.
We have noting to lose.
The reward is worth the risk!