The Daniel Diet Sermon - Summer SonShine #4

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Tue, 08/06/2019 - 2:15pm

Scripture Readings:

Dan 1:1-21  In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.  (2)  And the Lord gave Jehoiakim the king of Judah into his hand and some of of the utensils of the temple of God, and he brought them to the land of Shinar to the temple of his gods, and he brought the utensils to the treasury of his gods.  (3)  And the king ordered Ashpenaz, the commander of his court officials, to bring some of the Israelites from the royal family and from the lords,  (4)  youths who have no physical defect, and who are handsome, and who are prudent in all wisdom and endowed with knowledge, and who understand insight, and who have the ability in them to serve in the palace of the king. And the king ordered him to teach them the literature and the language of the Chaldeans.  (5)  And the king assigned to them his daily portion from the fine food of the king, and from the wine that he drank, and instructed that they were to be educated for three years. And at the end of their training, they were to be stationed before the king.  (6)  Now there was among them from the Judeans, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.  (7)  And the commander of the court officials gave them names, and he called Daniel, Belteshazzar; and Hananiah, Shadrach; and Mishael, Meshach; and Azariah, Abednego.  (8)  Now Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the fine food of the king, and with the wine that he drank, and so he requested from the commander of the court officials permission so that he would not defile himself.  (9)  And God gave Daniel favor and compassion before the commander of the court officials,  (10)  and the commander of the court officials said to Daniel, "I am afraid of my lord, the king, who has determined your food and your drink, for why should he see your face having a worse appearance than the young men who are your age? Then you will endanger my head with the king."  (11)  Then Daniel asked the guard whom the commander of the court officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,  (12)  "Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us some of the vegetables, and let us eat and let us drink water.  (13)  Then let our appearances and the appearance of the young men who are eating the fine food of the king be compared before you, and then deal with your servants according to what you see."  (14)  So he agreed to this proposal with them, and he tested them for ten days.  (15)  And at the end of ten days their appearances appeared better and they were healthier of body than all the young men who were eating the fine food of the king.  (16)  So the guard continued to withhold their fine food and the wine of their drink, and he gave them vegetables.  (17)  And as for these four young men, God gave to them knowledge and insight into all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had insight into all visions and dreams.  (18)  And at the end of the time the king had set to bring them, the commander of the court officials brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.  (19)  And the king spoke with them, and among all of them no one was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; then they stood before the king.  (20)  And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired from them, he found them ten times better than all of the magicians and conjurers that were in his entire kingdom.  (21)  And Daniel was there until the first year of Cyrus the king.

Matthew 5:13-16

Mat 5:13  "You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, by what will it be made salty? It is good for nothing any longer except to be thrown outside and trampled under foot by people.

Mat 5:14  You are the light of the world. A city located on top of a hill cannot be hidden,

Mat 5:15  nor do they light a lamp and place it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it shines on all those in the house.

Mat 5:16  In the same way let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

“The Daniel Diet” Sermon at Harbor Church July 28th, 2019

Everybody is on a diet. Its true. By definition a diet is what you eat. So everyone is on a diet of some kind, whether it is by intention or not. Some diets are designed to address specific health concerns- for weight reduction, to mitigate high blood pressure or to regular blood sugar levels as in the case of diabetes.  Most Fad diets are temporary -like ones for crash weight loss - once a person reaches their target  they often abandon the diet and return to their former pattern of eating; I have friends and family members who have each lost several hundred pounds like this, 20 or 40 pounds at a time, and a year or two later they are right back where they started. By contrast, lifestyle diets as the name implies, are designed to last a lifetime.– These are the choices that are permanent and yield a long-term better quality of life. This is what I would like to promote today; I call it The Daniel Diet -better than Atkins, Mediterranean, Dash and Nordic diets all rolled into one.

In our first reading, Daniel was conscripted into the service of the king along with several other bright and promising young people that the king wanted to cultivate within his court as advisors and potential future leaders. This was a common practice in the ancient near east; what was uncommon about this situation is that the king included several foreigners in this group of young trainees, Israelites who had been carried off in captivity to Babylonia after Jerusalem had been conquered in a military conquest. So Daniel found himself in a foreign land with a different culture, traditions and foods. Rather than wholly assimilating into this new people group, Daniel desired to maintain his cultural and religious distinctives that set him apart. There was no “When in Rome…” for Daniel. So he proposed a test for his boss. Let me eat a diet of fruit and vegetables and water, he said, while the rest of the trainees indulge in the fine wining and dining of the King’s court. Then after a period of time, compare us and tell me what you observe.  So the leader agreed to this, and what did he discover? Not surprisingly, the Chaldean young people, were gaining weight and developing high blood pressure from eating too much red meat and pastries, and were probably also blurry eyed and hung-over from drinking too much fine wine. Daniel and his friends both looked better and were healthier than the others. But that was the least of it; when the king examined Daniel and his friends, we read that, “in every matter of wisdom, insight and understanding, he found them ten times better than all the rest”. In choosing to follow and honor his God with his lifestyle, God honored Daniel and set him apart from the others. Indeed, he became a leader of the pack, because he refused to follow the pack and follow the Lord instead. The example set by Daniel and his friends is essentially the same message from our reading from Matthew, where Jesus said, “Let your light shine and set you apart in such a way that others see your good life, and give glory to God in heaven.” He said , I called you follow me so that you become the light of the world, the salt of the earth, and a city on a hill that stands out for all to see.”  This is the challenge that Jesus lays before all who would follow and honor him with their lives.

Back to the Daniel Diet – Do you think he had salt in his diet? I don’t know. What I do know is that salt has gotten a bad rap in recent years…

 Health organizations have been warning us about the dangers of salt for a long time. But Is Salt really bad for us or not?

For a long time, High salt intake has been claimed to cause a number of health problems, including heart disease and diabetes. However, decades of research have failed to provide convincing evidence to support this conclusively. Yes, reduced sodium in the diet can slightly reduce high blood pressure, and I’m not suggesting that anyone not follow a physician’s advice about this, but some serious doubts have been raised about the true benefits of sodium restriction, and many studies actually show that eating too little salt can be more harmful than having too much.

Depending upon the source, many varieties of sodium chloride, like sea salt contain trace amounts of calcium, potassium, iron and zinc. The essential minerals in salt act as important electrolytes in the body. They help with fluid balance, nerve transmission and muscle function.

Some amount of salt is naturally found in most foods. It's also frequently added to foods in order to improve flavor. That’s right, it tastes good AND can be good for you!

There is some evidence suggesting that a low-salt diet can be downright harmful. A low-salt diet has been linked to higher LDL and triglyceride levels (the "bad" cholesterol), and increased insulin resistance. It may actually increase the risk of death from heart disease, heart failure and type 2 diabetes. Some health conditions make it necessary to cut back on salt. If your doctor wants you to limit your intake, then definitely continue to do so . However, if you are a healthy person who eats mostly whole, single ingredient foods, then there is probably no need for you to worry about your salt intake. In this case, you can feel free to add salt during cooking or at the table in order to improve flavor.

Back to the question, did Daniel have salt in his diet? Again, I’m not sure, but one thing I am sure of is that he was a ‘salty fellow’ in the Matthew 5 sense of saltiness, in the sense of being the salt of the earth.

For years sailors have been referred to as “Old Salts.” An "old salt" is an old sailor whose life experiences on the ocean have shaped them and made who they are. Has the saltiness of Jesus flavored your life to the extend that your relationship with him affects every aspect of your life? Your work and business practices? Your family time, your parenting? The way you treat your spouse? Has it ‘seasoned’ your relationships in the community to the extent that people know that you follow Jesus, even when it means not following the crowd, when it requires you to stand out and be different for His name’s sake? You are the salt of the earth, and your very presence in this world can make a difference when you have the courage to shine your light through your good way of living, the choices you make, and your reputation. What’s more, An "old salt" were often  raconteurs, or teller of sea stories. Much of the history and traditions of mariners are passed from generation to generation by these sea stories as told and retold by old salts. Do we tell the old, old stories that the Lord has entrusted to us? And do we have the boldness to share newer stories of how God has changed our lives for the better? Do we dare to be an ‘old salts’ for God?

Historically, salt was used to preserve food. Can “Salty Christians” preserve the faith as well? Can we promote the precious good news that has been entrusted to us, and can we pass it to the next generation as well?

The Daniel Diet is not sodium free. But it is “light” diet, one that can shine the light of God into the lives of all around us.  Because, When we strive to live the way that Daniel did, when we take to heart the words that Jesus said, people will see our good works, and glorify our Father in heaven, amen.