Youth News - October 2010
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October 2010
by Matt Kay

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” - Romans 12.2 (ESV)

At youth group, we’ve spent the past couple of weeks talking about what it means to conform – letting outside pressures and influences mold and shape your thinking and your choices. I wanted to encourage them to seek to be people who are transformed by God from within, rather than be conformed to a world that’s without, especially as they head back into their schools. Some people whom I know they could relate to was a young man named Daniel, and three of his friends, whom many believe were teenagers when the Bible picks up their stories in the book of Daniel.

Daniel was a young man when he and his friends were deported to Babylon. Their city and their people fell at the hands of king Nebuchadnezzar, and now the people of God who once occupied the Promised Land were living in exile – away from home, and like strangers in a strange land.

King Nebuchadnezzar had ordered his chief eunuch to select men from Israel who would be instructed in the literature and language of the Chaldeans. On top of that, the king sought to dictate their diet, and his eunuch even called them by new names! Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were called Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Their Hebrew names pointed to their God, the LORD, and to His character; but these new names pointed to Babylonian deities – false gods. The name Daniel, for example, means “God is my Judge,” while the name Belteshazzar is a direct reference to the pagan god “Bel.”

Indoctrination, a special diet, and a new name: the king of Babylon wanted Daniel and his friends to conform to the Babylonian way, and to fully erase the customs, culture, and the God of Israel from their minds and hearts.

The world (a system of thinking and living that leaves God out) has ways that tries to get us to conform to as well. 1 John 2.15-17 says:

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

Daniel refused to defile himself with the king’s food and drink, and his devotion was honored by God (Daniel 1). Daniel’s three friends refused to bow down to an image set up by Nebuchadnezzar and were thrown into the fire, but God saw fit to deliver them unharmed (Daniel 3). Later in life, Daniel refused to obey a law that says that he cannot pray to God, and he was thrown into a den of lions, but God shut the lion’s mouths and delivered Daniel (Daniel 6). Daniel and his three friends refused to conform because of their devotion to God, and God used them to influence Babylon for God’s glory! How are you tempted to conform to the world around you? Are you tempted to give your trust and devotion to anyone or anything other than the God who created you and gave His Son for you?

I want to encourage you today to refuse the temptation to conform, and accept God’s will for you to be transformed by His power and His power alone. May you, by God’s grace, give your trust and devotion to Him, and place yourself in a position to be conformed only to the image of Christ!

- Matt


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