Dear CSOPC brothers and sisters,
What a glorious savior we serve! What a glorious savior who laid down his life for us! In last week’s sermon, we noted the depth and breadth of the character of Christ – we saw his patience, his faithfulness, his wisdom, his compassion, and his power & authority. This week we will consider the mark of those who belong to Christ. And we will answer the question, “What is true greatness?” How does Christ define greatness in contrast to how the world defines greatness? Join us as we explore these significant words from the mouth of our Lord.
Please note the following announcements:
- Fellowship Lunch this Sunday. We will enjoy an Italian pot-luck after worship. Please bring your favorite Italian dish to share.
- Also this Sunday we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper and will collect the deacon’s offering.
- On Sunday, November 9th we will have the privilege to hear from Mr. David Nakhla during the Sunday school hour. David is the coordinator for the Committee on Diaconal Ministries; and he oversees the OPC’s short-term missions and disaster relief ministries. Also, due to time constraints, David will begin his presentation at 9:30AM on 11/9.
- The ladies’ baby shower is scheduled for Sunday, November 9th at 3:00PM at the McDonald’s home. More details to follow.
- This week’s devotion (attached) is a reflection from Daniel 1 on the uniqueness of the Christian lifestyle.
God bless and I look forward to worshipping our Lord with you this Lord’s Day!
From the Pastor’s Desk
Colossians 1:12, “But resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food.”
One of the prominent descriptions of the Christian in Scripture is that the believer is a pilgrim in this world. For example, the author of Hebrews refers to believers as “strangers and exiles on the earth” (11:13). And Peter addresses believers as “sojourners and exiles” (2:11). A believer is one who has been born from above, is a citizen of heaven, and thus is called to live according to heavenly standards (John 3:3; Phil 3:20; 2 Tim 3:16). As the well-known phrase summarizes, Christians are called to be in the world, but not of the world (John 17:15-17).
Daniel and his three friends in Babylon provide a wonderful illustration of this pilgrim mentality and of the distinctiveness of the Christian lifestyle. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem in 605BC. They were promising youth (Dan 1:4); thus the Babylonian King attempted to indoctrinate them into the Babylonian culture. They were taught the ‘literature and language of the Chaldeans’ (v. 4), they were exposed to the luxuries of the Babylonian king (v. 5), and they were given new names to signify the Babylonian religion (v. 7). How would these godly men react? Would they become enmeshed in the pagan worldliness of the Babylonian court? Would lose their identity as believers in Yahweh? Or would they remember their true identity as believers in the one, true God? Put simply, they responded in faithful devotion to their Lord! The familiar stories of the lion’s den and the fiery furnace (both of which are punishments for their obedience to God) illustrate the great courage and conviction of Daniel and his friends in the face of opposition and persecution (Daniel 3 & 6). But early in chapter 1 we get a glimpse of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah’s understanding of their unique identity as God’s covenant people.
As mentioned above, part of the king’s attempt to erase the unique identity of these Jewish youth was to expose them to the riches and luxuries of the Babylonian court (1:5) … and then we read, “But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself” (Dan 1:8). There are two things to note. First, Daniel understands the importance of his identity as a child of God. There is a certain distinctiveness of lifestyle for God’s people. And Daniel and his friends rejected the luxuries of the king’s table in an effort to protect themselves from the temptations of the world (1 John 2:15-17). And second, note the humility and respect with which Daniel questions those in authority over him. Daniel ‘asked’ the chief ‘to allow him (v. 8b) …’ In God’s providence, Daniel was exiled to Babylon as a servant; and Daniel showed the proper respect and deference to those placed in authority over him (1 Pet 2:13-17). And while Daniel did show the proper respect, he never disobeyed his Lord or compromised his convictions (see Dan 6:1-13). We must remember to hold these two thoughts in proper balance: (1) we must never sacrifice our Biblical convictions, and (2) we should live in peace with all as we are able, demonstrating a spirit of humility and grace (Rom 12:18).
Daniel and his friends understood their identity – they were pilgrims in this world. And they understood the distinctiveness of their identity as the people of God. Moreover, they sought to preserve their identity, knowing the deadly consequences of flirting with the world. Brothers and sisters, like Daniel, we have a unique identity as the blood-bought body of Christ. As the undeserving recipients of Christ’s mercy. May we resist the temptations of the world! May we resist the world’s desire to squeeze us into its mold! And may we stand firm as the people of God!
Rev. Robert Arendale, Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (OPC), www.csopc.org