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Refugees in Exile

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Pastor Steve Ellison | Religious Columnist 
Are you a refugee living in exile? Unless you have soberly and carefully dealt with that question lately, the answer might surprise you. You may not have left your country, but your country may have left you. Perhaps you have noticed this development or perhaps you are more like the proverbial frog in the steadily warming cooking pot. In any case, it seems to me that a very good case can be made that for Christians in the United States of America in 2016, the country has left us. To be sure, most of us have not suffered to any great degree, yet. However, that is changing and what has already taken place is that we have largely been pushed to the fringe of society and silenced. That part of the battle is pretty much over. What is taking place currently is that it is become increasingly difficult for Christians to exist in the marketplace. Certain occupations have already experienced this and others are sure to soon follow. The book of Revelation makes it clear that when the end comes Christians will be completely excluded from the marketplace. This process does not have to be fruitless. We will be placed into a situation that throughout the history of Christianity that has seen the greatest expansion of the Kingdom of God.
During this time of exile, Christians will be afforded a series of marvelous opportunities to testify to the goodness, love, holiness, majesty, and omnipotent sovereignty of God. The book of Daniel provides some great examples for us to learn from. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego illustrate just how a faithful person can trust God and provide effectual testimony while exiled in a pagan society. As early as verse eight of chapter one, we are told that Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself. Other renderings say that Daniel “purposed in his heart”, “set upon his heart”, “resolved”, and “determined in his heart”. In the coming days, Christians will be presented with innumerable occasions to “defile ourselves” just like Daniel was. These occasions will in reality by opportunities to display the magnificence of God but it will require that we “set our hearts” not to defile ourselves.
Shortly thereafter, in chapter two, Daniel found occasion to turn away from the plight of pagan peers. However, Daniel seized the opportunity to “respond with tact and discretion” in pleading for mercy for his pagan acquaintances to both the king and God. God responded by exalting Daniel in the eyes of the pagan king. Daniel’s response illuminates our second lesson. Daniel made certain to direct the honor and glory to the Lord. As a result, the pagan king praised God. Christians must be careful to tell the pagans that only God is deserving of exaltation.
Lesson three is found in chapter three. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused the royal command to worship an idol. They saw opportunity to glorify God and were determined to do so even if it cost them their lives. God saw fit to rescue these three faithful servants of His and the pagan king gave glory to God because of it. Christians must be willing to pay the consequences for refusing to engage in the idolatry all around us.
Chapter six gives us lesson four. Daniel was commanded not to pray to the Lord under threat of being thrown into a den of hungry lions. Daniel ignored the command and continued with his usual prayer routine. Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den and God chose to protect him which prompted the pagan king to burst into glorious praise of God. Christians must refuse to forgo the worship of Almighty God. ..……….pastorsteve8800@gmail.com