We are into a new sermon series this month called Thrive.  We are looking at the life of Daniel as a road map to learning how we might thrive as Jesus followers in a hostile world.

So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. Daniel 6:28 (NIV)

The underlying theme of Daniel is that he thrived because he was faithful to God. God blessed Daniel because of his faith while living in an anti-God environment. Daniel was removed from his home in Judah and taken to Babylon. He was forced to work for the Emperor of Babylon. The enemy of his people and his God became his employer. Daniel went from a God-honoring environment to a God-hating environment. He went from a situation where he could go with the culture to a situation where he had to go against the culture. He went from a home where he could live out his faith openly and freely to a place where his faith was constantly being challenged, and he was constantly being forced to compromise. For Daniel, the goal to just survive his ordeal would have been admirable; the fact that he thrived is a testimony to God’s power.

If you asked me to boil down how this happened, I would say that it all came down to Daniel’s trust in God.

Every yes must be defended by a thousand no’s – Jeff Walker

Our commitment to God, our “yes” to God, has to be protected by our “no” to the temptations to compromise. Daniel said no to compromising on his God-honoring diet (Daniel chapter 1). Daniel said no to fear, angst, and anxiety when he was treated harshly and unfairly (Daniel chapter 2). Daniel said no to the temptation to water down the truth because speaking the truth may have put his life in danger (Daniel chapter 4). He said no to the temptation to feel sorry for himself because he had been put on the shelf of marginalization because of his age (Daniel chapter 5). Daniel said no to the pressure to stop worshipping God daily (Daniel chapter 6).

God’s gift of thrive is activated when we refuse to compromise God’s Word.

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…. Titus 2:11-12 (NIV)

So what temptation do you need to say no to?  If you are just surviving as a Jesus follower, is it because you have not defended your yes to Jesus by saying no to the thousand temptations?

Here are a few of the things that I am working on saying no to in order to thrive.

I have said no to a diet that is destroying my body.  We get to eat a “king’s diet” (see Daniel 1) every day.  But is it a diet that honors God our King?  I have chosen to say no to the food that is produced not for nutrition but for addiction.

I have said no to social media.  Since deleting Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, I have found myself less anxious, angry, and tempted.  I am more open to conversations with real people in the real world.  See Philippians 4:8.

I have said no to the news.  I now limit my exposure to reading the news to just once a day and typically not at all on weekends.  Once again, the goal of most media is to create paying customers and not to discuss ideas and the pursuit of truth.

I have said no to going to bed late.  Sleep is a blessing.  It is a gift from God to help us thrive.

I have said no to seeing people as categories. If we are going to love God and love people (Matthew 22:36-40), we have to see people as God sees them.  People are not just units of political gain or units of profit or units of production.  We are not just cogs in the machine.  God made us as individuals with complex lives.  People who God values.  His value price being the eternal life of Jesus (John 3:16-17).

I have said no to not asking “get to the heart” questions.  Person-focused questions cut through the noise and rancor.  Why would a mother want to abort her baby?  What would make a young man want to erase himself in order to be a girl?  How is it that sexual love is considered to be the highest form of happiness?  Jesus followers are called to be compassionate truth speakers.  We can’t do that unless we ask get-to-the-heart questions.

Daniel teaches us that in order to thrive, we have to stand firm.  To say yes to God’s Word and to His Will means defending that commitment by saying no to compromise.  What do you need to say no to because of your faith in Jesus?

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.  James 4:4 (NIV)