I've received questions and I didn't bring them all to read 'em off but we have a lot of relationship questions. In dealing with this, this issue, we have questions such as, "Skip, please talk about loneliness. Please talk about singleness. Please talk about single ministry and please talk about marriage." We have a lot of questions on marriage, divorce, and remarriage, and that's where this series is heading. First of all, we're going to be dealing with relationships; the single, married, divorced and remarried. And we're going to get into some hot issues; hot potato issues that not everyone is going to agree with. That's okay, that's just the way it is. Uh, not every, all of us are going to agree on the same things. But this particular topic of singleness is something we've never dealt with on a Sunday morning service like this; I think it's important that we do. Number one, because our society is sort of heading that way. There are more singles today in our society than ever before. That is, people are not getting married so soon. In fact, some people are opting to be single all together. There are even organizations devoted to this cause. It is estimated that one out of every three families, excuse me, one out of every three households in America, one out three are comprised of single adults alone or living with single roommates; rooming up with people. One out of three. In the San Francisco Bay area, we have, uh, half the people that live in that area over the age of seventeen are single. Half. So it's on the rise and it's important that we speak about this kind of an issue. I know that there are a lot of scars because of the things society has imposed upon people either because they're single or because their marriage or they're single parents. I, myself, it's been five years that I've been married, which means most of my life I spent as a single person, and I do remember those years. I remember Monday night at McDonald's, Tuesday night at Burger King, Thursday night and the rest of the week, Hamburger Helper (laughter). I remember those days. But I did have a fulfilling single life. I really enjoyed. Now, I enjoy being married, but I did have a fulfilling single life. I am than-, I thank God for the times that I had as a single person. But I remember those other instances, too, and I thank the Lord that I don't have to relive them. I went over to one single, uh, house, a bunch of guys living together, and they were going to have dinner and he pulled out Captain Crunch (laughter). And it was bowl of Captain Crunch with strawberry milk, and I began to pray for those brothers. That's desperate. But I think it's unfair to label people that choose to be single, even if it's their whole life, as weird. I found an article in the New York Times by an ultra-conservative, obviously the guy did not get along with singles very well. This is what he wrote. He said, "The single man is disposed to criminality, drugs and violence. He is irresponsible about his debt, alcoholic, accident-prone, and venereally diseased. (Laughter) Unless he can marry, he is destined to an unsteady life, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short (laughter)." That was in the New York Times. It's hard for me to believe that was ever published. You single people face a barrage of messages and attitudes that can cause you to be full of anxiety. Not only stuff like this, but just the anxiety of another month, another year waiting for a mate, if that's what you feel God has called you to. Looking in the mirror, a little more bald from day to day. The complexion isn't what it used to be. Maybe a few more pounds, which could cause you to think, "I've gotta do something quick, so that I can still be able to get somebody." And that can be very dangerous thinking. Mount on top of all that, the messages that you get from calendars and from billboards that talk about "Thin is in," and if you have you can "pinch an inch" that you're not eligible. And so we become so body-conscious, hoping that someone someday will notice us, when Jesus said, "Don't even worry about your life, don't worry about your body." It's an important message that needs to get out. How many people here this morning are married? Would you raise up your hands please so that we can see? Okay, this is the married population of second service. Hands down. How many are single? Raise your hands. Substantial amount. Hands down. How many of you single people feel like you want to stay single the rest of your life, that God has called you to that? Raise up your hand. (Laughter) There's nothing to laugh at. Seriously, raise your hands up. Okay, hands down. How many single people don't want to stay single but want to get married, raise up your hands. Keep them up. Now, all of you with your hands raised, look around (laughter). I've done my part in your dating. I seriously do not plan to solve the problem of singleness in this Bible study but I do hope that I will give you, through the Scripture, ways to maximize single living. You see, the New Testament question is not, "Are you single? Are you married?" The question is, "Are you faithful to the Lord? Do you belong to Him," and your station in life now, being single or married, you should live to the fullest capacity for the Lord. And I'd like to help you do that.
And we're starting in Matthew Chapter 19 because I wanna look at two quotes: one from Jesus and one from Paul concerning singleness as we get started. In verse 8, "Jesus said to them, 'Moses because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, that whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery." Now, look at how the single disciples respond to this. "The disciples said to Him, 'If such is the case of the man with his wife, it's better not to marry.' Jesus said, 'All cannot accept this saying, but only to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.'" Jesus speaks about three groups of people. Those who, because of a congenital anomaly, cannot reproduce; they are eunuchs, not by choice but by birth. Speaks about another group of men who have gone under a process of castration which, to us, is strange, but back then, if you were a court official and if you were over a group by the king, especially in a pagan culture, especially in a pagan culture that had a harem, these were rulers who had undergone this process and they were that way the rest of their lives. They were made that way by men. The third group is a group of people who have decided to remain unmarried for the sake of the kingdom of God, to focus their attention as a single person totally on the things of God. In fact, the New International Version, I think, says that. It says, "There are those who have renounced marriage." You that have NIV, is that correct? They've renounced marriage because of the kingdom of God. It is speaking of those who are focusing their attention voluntarily for the kingdom of God. Notice first that it's a gift. Notice Jesus says, "Not all can accept this saying, but only to those whom it has been given." Singleness is a gift. Now some of you may be praying, "Oh Lord, please don't give me that gift." And that's alright. But it is a gift. But second, notice, that it's not for everybody. Only those who can accept it. I found out a couple weeks ago that one of my great heroes, so-to-speak, of the faith, someone who is a profound Bible teacher today, God is using in a mighty way; John Stott, over in England. I've read all of his books. He's in sixties, I think. Has been single all of his life, and he's decided that's where God wants him; it's a gift that he has embraced from the Lord. Turn with me to 1 Corinthians, Chapter 7 now. 1 Corinthians, Chapter 7 and let's look at a quote by Paul the Apostle. Verse 1, "Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me," You see, he had a question and answer period, too. They had written Paul a series of questions concerning their church and the Christian life. One of them dealt with singleness and marriage. "It is good," verse 1, "for a man not to touch a woman." Or as the Amplified Bible says, "It is good for a man not to touch a woman, but to remain single." "Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband." He is saying it is good to be single. Don't misunderstand. He's not saying it's the only good thing. He's simply saying there's nothing wrong with being single. It's not evil to be single. You are not a weirdo because you have chosen to be single. The U.S. Bureau of Statistics has said that a man who is over the age of thirty-five years, he is thirty-five years old over that, the U.S. Statistic Bureau calls him a confirmed bachelor if he is not married. Because the odds of him marrying after thirty-five according to the statistics show that it's, it's slim; like one-third of the males. Hey, there's nothing wrong with either being in a holding pattern and waiting for a mate or knowing it's a gift of God and remaining single forever. There's nothing wrong with it, that's his point.
Now, the problem is that many will foster this idea that if you're not married by a certain age, you got something wrong with you that would cause people not to want to get to know you. And if you're not married by a certain age, you're an old maid. I had a girl call me one time years ago and she was so upset that she wasn't married yet. After all, she was nineteen years old (light laughter). Heh. Paul says it's good. There's nothing wrong with being single. You know the Jews really gave a hard time to single people. The Jews said, quote, "It is a sin to not be married." There were seven people, according to Jewish tradition, not the Scripture, but Jewish tradition, who could not enter heaven. First on the list was a man, a Jew, who had no wife. Second, a wife who had no children. You could see that the Jews never had a thriving singles ministry with an attitude like that, because they looked so dimly upon that. This attitude was pervading the church of Corinth and Paul is writing against that attitude. He says, "It's good. Nevertheless, it's tough," he said, "There's temptation. Because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife and let each woman have her own husband." Now, he's not saying that everyone should be married from this verse. He's simply saying this is the norm. Most people will get married because of the strong, natural, God-given physical attraction and desire that we have. It's just normal that most people will, but it's good to be single as well. Down in verse 7, now remember Paul is writing as a single male, "For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift," notice that, "from God, one in this manner and another in that. But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am," that is, single, "but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion." Now you might read that and think, "What a rotten view of marriage." I mean it sounds like Paul is saying, "Look, because of the temptation, so you don't blow it, just find the first one that comes along and get hitched so that you don't fall into immorality." Now there's some people who think like that. They think, when they see someone, "Is she Christian? Is she single? Then she's fair game. Hunting season is now open." The truth the two criterion have been met: she has a profession in Christ and she's single. Of course, you know, even you single people know that dating is more than hunting season. And when Paul says this in this verse, he's simply coming against an argument in the Corinthian church, and the argument was that if you're really spiritual, you'll always be single, you'll always serve the Lord fully if you don't have the distraction of married life. Paul is saying, "Look, that's not gonna work because most people have natural, God-given desires that overwhelm that, and there's nothing wrong with getting married. You can't expect that at all." So he says it's better to marry than to burn with passion. Remember, this is Corinth he's speaking to. You could not go out of your door and get a Big Mac at the Corinthian McDonald's without being tempted. There were legal prostitutes running through the city and it was a religious function as well, where they would prostitute their bodies to take revenue to fund the pagan temples in Corinth, so he's simply writing against, uh, some of that attitude in the day.
Look down at verse 27, "Are you bound to a wife? Then do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife?" That is, your single, "Then don't seek a wife." Don't let that become the overwhelming desire and pursuit of your life. Down in verse 32, "I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things that belong to the Lord—how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife." He's not saying it's wrong to care about those things. He simply says that's the way it is. If you are married, you can't say, "Honey I'm not going to work. I'm just gonna go out of my little study and pray and read the bible for the next month." You must care about the things to provide your family with: food and clothes and an apartment or home or whatever. But he is simply saying there is nothing wrong with being married; both are gifts and there is nothing wrong with being single. Both are gifts. You where the problem lies, folks? The problem lies is in whatever station you are right now trying to play the other role. Now what I mean by that is that when single people try to act married, that's where the problem comes. When they think, "Oh, we can live together because we love each other." That's where the problem lies. And it's equally wrong for married people to try to act like single people when God has brought them in a bond. They must care for one another.
Now, I have chosen, in this study, to quote from all single people, instead of a married man's perspective of what it used to be like to be single. And I've chosen two people, Joseph and Daniel, both single people, when we discover this about their lives in these instances, and I pray that these people will become role models for single living.
The U.S. News World Report Magazine a few years ago said that the average young adults single in the United States will choose a role model from the celebrities that he or she sees on television be it consciously or unconsciously and will mimic the lifestyle or the philosophy or the way they dress. And you know the two people that headed the list of role models in America? Number one was Clint Eastwood. "(In a Clint Eastwood impression) Go ahead, make my day." (Laughter) And number two was Eddie Murphy. (Laughter) Now folks, we can do a lot better than those two. And so I'm seeking here to bring us down to biblical role models and examples for single living. So turn to Genesis, Chapter 39, and we'll look at Joseph. Genesis, Chapter 39. At this time, Joseph is a single man who was sold by an evil plot of his brothers into a foreign land, the land of Egypt. However, God was with him. Cause God was with him, God raised him up to a position of importance. He became second-in-command in the house of one official named Potiphar. But because Potiphar was so busy, he committed most everything into the hand of Joseph. And because Potiphar was so busy, that meant that he had a lonely wife tucked away at home who tried to lure Joseph with a sexual temptation. Now remember, Joseph is single and we're gonna see his battle with sexual temptation. Verse 6, "So he," Potiphar, "left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate." Notice, "And Joseph was handsome in form and appearance." The Holy Spirit placed that in the text for an important reason. It described what he looked like. He was the athletic type, his physique, he was good-looking. He was the athletic, Tom Selleck type in the Old Testament. And the temptation that he's gonna face because of that in the next several verses is a sexual temptation. I'll tell ya, one of the greatest lures, and Satan knows it, one of the greatest lures of entrapment is the lure of sexual allurement. Am I right? I've talked to lots of singles, lots of singles. Spoke to one this week who I consider probably the most successful single that is in his walk with the Lord being a single person for forty years that I've ever met, and he says, "This is the hardest area of my life is the sexual temptation." It's a tough one. Satan knows how to lure people with this stuff and it's all around us, isn't it? Man, you can't walk into a store, see a book or something on television without some kind of an innuendo, or overtones of sexuality. I heard this week in Southern California where I'm from down in Newport Beach, there's this billboard, and on the billboard is a woman with a negligee so everybody can see it as they drive by on the freeway around this road; very offensive. It shows very graphically which underneath the negligee and someone who is a Christian saw this and called their pastor. I know their pastor real well, he was my pastor. Called him and says, "You know, this really is offensive to me every time I drive by and I see this woman on this billboard. I'm sure it's offensive to a lot of Christians. I know that that doesn't please God. Do you think if if somebody were to ever paint over that or, or deface that or something that that God would be angry at 'em." Pastor says, "Well, I don't know, he wasn't thinking ya, I don't know probably not, it's probably good that somebody would do that." Didn't know why the person was asking that. Two days later in the newspaper on the front cover was a picture of this billboard. Someone had painted a set of clothes on this lady. (Laughter) That's great.
Now, verse 7, "It came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, 'Lie with me.'" This is not, I mean this is aggressive temptation. The woman came up to Joseph and grabbed him and says, "Come to bed with me, Joseph." Now, he could've looked at that as flattery and said, "Huh, I'm pretty good-looking, at least somebody cares, somebody loves me, somebody's paying attention to me." Notice how he handled it folks. Verse 8, "But he refused and said to his master’s wife, 'Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness," notice, "and sin against God?'" Did you pick up on that? Yes, it would be a sin against Potiphar, it would be a sin against his wife, it would be a sin against his own body, but more prominent than that, it was a sing against God. God was priority in his life and he weighed everything to that commitment. "I'm not going to sin against God and do this wickedness." "So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her." Notice this temptation was not once, it was day after day after day after day. And Joseph refused day after day after day after day. The way we handle temptations now will affect us the rest of our lives. Whether you accept the temptation or reject the temptation, this will affect you for good. If you are used to making a compromise today, it'll be a little easier next time to make a little more compromise, and then a little more and open the door wider and wider. If you say, "No," at first and are used to saying no, even if the temptation comes and comes, you develop a pattern of saying, "No, no, no," and it gets easier. The temptation still is there, it will always be there, but it gets easier for you deal with.
"But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside," how convenient. Who's gonna know? No one from church is around, they can't see me. No one's inside looking. "And she caught him by his garment," this is an aggressive lady. "She said, 'Lie with me.' But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside." He literally streaked out of the house. (Laughter) It's always better to lose your t-shirt than to lose your purity. No hesitation. She grabbed him and he split out the door. That's how we handle temptation. He refused at first and he continually refused and continually refused because he made a commitment to God and he saw his life as pleasing or or displeasing God. Because he set that standard, he refused the first time, it was easier the second time. So by the twenty-fifth proposal, he was ready to say, "Forget it," and he ran out of the house. He handled that temptation by running. The Scripture says, "Flee temptation." Paul to the Corinthians says, "Don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit? God bought you. You don't even belong to yourself anymore. Therefore, therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit which belong to Him." That's the principle. Glorifying God and saying no here to temptation. Now you may say, "Well you know, that was Joseph, Skip. I mean, he was Old Testament hero. He was a biblical character. And Paul the Apostle, I mean, he was the great hero of the New Testament. Of course they fled temptation, they're biblical heroes. But what about me?" Look, these guys were single men. They had sexual longings like anyone else. I do not believe their hormones evaporated because they were biblical characters. They just learned how to deal with them. They learned to not compromise with them. And we see a victory over this area in their life.
Before we move on, there's nothing wrong with sexual desire. If it controls you and you yield to it, it becomes wrong. God gave sex as a gift to the human race. But it is a gift and it is so beautiful when it's in it's place. When it's out of place, it is ugly and it is filthy. If you went into your wife's or your mother's rose garden and you saw this beautiful roses and you saw that beautiful, rich, fertilized dark soil, you'd say, "That's beautiful garden. That soil is gorgeous, rich, dark." Take that rich, dark soil and put it on her white, new carpet, and it's not gorgeous, rich soil anymore. It's dirty. Right? It's out of place. Any gift of God is beautiful in it's place. When taken out of place, it is filthy. Also, the temptation is not the sin. When you toy with the temptation and mull over it and play with it and think about her or think about him and fantasize, then it's evil. But you know, a lot of Christians feel guilty because they get tempted. That's how Satan works. He tempts you, then he makes you guilty because you feel tempted. But temptation is not wrong. He's doing it to you. You just don't play with the temptation, you say no to it. And that's what Joseph did.
Go on now down to verse 20. Let's see another tough spot that he was in. It says, "Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison." Now we see Joseph, not only single, but isolated. He didn't fall into temptation, he said no to it and he's suffering for it in prison. "But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s hand, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper." He was there because of no fault of his own. He did not complain. He was content. And that's my point in this section. He handled this isolation, this prison sentence. He embraced it and he made the best out of it. Now you may feel, if you are single and if you are waiting for a mate, you may feel very lonely. I have a letter from a girl who stated how lonely she is without a mate. And it can be very lonely. But Joseph, in his loneliness, had two options. Could've complained and said, "God, it's not fair." Or he could've trusted in God and made the most out of it. He was an insignificant slave in a prison and he thought, "You know what, God can use this prison sentence for His glory. I'm going to be the best slave and best prisoner this prison ever saw." That was his attitude. "I'm going to make the most out of it." That's how he handled his isolation. He made everything that he, looked evil and wrong in his life into something good. He always saw the good out of it. It's like the little kid who was the eternal optimist. He always was happy, never down. And his brothers wanted to play a joke on him. Said, "I can't figure out my brother's always so happy." So for Christmas, his two brothers bought him uh, gave him a whole, a ton, a pile of manure. That was his Christmas present. That's all he got. And he thought, "This guy's gonna be really angry." And the kid was all excited, jumping up and down, "This is great!" They said, "What's wrong with you? Why are you so happy?" He said, "Oh, with all this manure, there's gotta be a pony down there somewhere." (Laughter). Joseph said when his brothers sold him into Egypt, he said years later, "You meant it for evil, God meant it for good." He saw good out of it. He maximized the present position, even though he was isolated and in prison. And he used it for God's glory. He used his life to the maximum. He was content. Paul said, "I have learned whatever state I am to be," what? He said that when he was a single man. "I have learned to be content." I think that's a basic problem with many of us, whether married or single. I know many single people who are not satisfied that they're single, they want to be married. I know many married who want to be single. And they're not satisfied. We need to learn to be content like Paul the Apostle said, learning contentment.
That is why I wonder, folks, if we sort of do a disservice when we segregate too much into separate, little groups; married, parents, singles, over forty, under thirty, between twenty-five and twenty-four. I'm all for groups, but it can be unhealthy, I think sometimes, because a single person needs to watch a married couple closely. When they watch the work involved in making a good marriage, that single person needs to see that. And the married couple needs to see the single person. As he's complaining about his wife and she's complaining about her husband, they need to see that single person wanting to get married. They can remember what it was like, how much we were in love and wanted to be married. What happened to that? I think there needs to be a blending so that we can learn to be content with the station in life that God has placed us. I had a friend back in Southern California who was rather angry at God because she knew the Lord was coming soon and she was single. And she said, "Skip, I'm gonna be angry if the Lord comes before I have a chance to get married. I'm so lonely." But you know what? I'll betcha that the loneliness person in your zip code last night was not a single person. I'll bet you that the loneliness person was a married person, lying on the edge of his or her bed saying, "Oh God, when will it get better?" Because I've spoken to so many of them, too many of them. That's how he handled isolation; making the most out of it and learning to be content.
Next role model, and we're gonna close with this one. The book of Daniel, Chapter 1. Daniel, Chapter 1. We'll look at a few Scriptures of Daniel as someone that I consider to be successful. And there's a few hints and secrets if you are single to make the most out of your single life. And we find it in Daniel. Daniel, Chapter 1. Remember again, Daniel is not married, he is single. He is in the courts of Babylon. He will remain single the rest of his life. He knows that. He's gonna make the most out of it. What is your yardstick for success, single people? Is it the success yardstick of the world that says if you are a successful single you will have this, you will live here, and you will do that? You are not a failure if you're not married. If you are waiting on the Lord, that's fine. But if God has chosen you to remain single and you know it and I think that if, if, if you have the gift of celibacy, you know it. You're not a failure because you have ring around the collar instead of ring around the finger (laughter). Many people look at it, people as a failure if they aren't married. Now over in Chapter 1, it says in verse 5, "The king appointed for them," including Daniel, "A daily provision of the king's delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of time they might serve before the king. But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself." He decided not to eat this food number one, because it wasn't kosher and he was a jew and he remained true to God. Number two, he decided not to eat this because this was a symbol of having arrived; this was the graduation ceremony after the years of training for a eunuch in Nebuchadnezzar's palace, to be lavished upon with the delicate food and the great greatest wine. It was the symbol of arrival. To not accept this food could possibly cause death. It was an insult. Daniel took a risk. "I'm not going to eat it." Later on, after Daniel interprets the great dream for Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar wants to bless him with all sorts of gifts and all sorts of money, Nebuchadnezzar says, uh, Daniel says, "Hey Neb, keep it. I don't want your gifts. You keep them to yourself. This is a gift of God. I don't need that. But I'll still interpret your dream and the interpretation is sure." A little later on in the book, Daniel's angry, jealous compatriots decide to ban public prayer and kill anyone who is caught praying to another God. What does Daniel do? He goes home, opens his windows in front of everybody, and faces Jerusalem, kneels down and he prays three times a day. Why? Daniel, why did you have to open the windows? You know that people would see you and you knew that you'd lose your job because of it and even lose your head. Why couldn't you close the windows and pray incognito and be secret about it. In the morning when you do your situps, have a word of prayer. Why publicly? Because Daniel defined his life with obedience. And the standard of his life is this, "Is God pleased with my life? Am I publicly proclaiming God?" He refused to be molded into the form of success that the world had for him. There is so much pressure to conform to the worldly status of success, whether you're married or single. And if you're single, success is this car, and these clothes and that job; that's success. Man, some of the loneliest single people and frustrated I've ever met have the nicest cars, nicest clothes and greatest, newest hairdos. Not all of them. Not at all. But many of them. 'Cause that is not where it's at. He refused to be molded to the status of success, or the symbols of success of the world. He had an unswerving loyalty to the Lord, his God.
Over in Chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar issued a decree to kill all of the people who were wise men, including Daniel. Verse 17, "Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions." Daniel decided, "I'm gonna go for it. I'm gonna interpret the dream." But he met with his friends. He had a network of people that he counseled with. He just didn't take it to the Lord himself, he took it to the Lord with that network of friends that God had given to him. "That they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon." Daniel, in facing this crisis, had a network of friends. My point is that God never calls us to be lone rangers, and one of the secrets to successful single living is having a network of friends around you who can encourage you, who can lift you up and who can be there for you. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto, right? Tonto got Kemo Sabe out of a lot of fixes. They worked in two's. We are meant to work together developing a strong network of friends, friendships. I'll tell you why. When you have friends around, you single folks, it provides an emotional boot camp, so-to-speak. When you deal with problems, when people deal with your problems, it helps to prepare you for an even deeper commitment, more complicated commitment later on. Developing a core of friends will also, I believe, prevent many premature marriages. How many people take the passion button from sizzle to burning hot too soon because that one person that was their friend that they were confiding in, their best friends got married and they're afraid to be alone now. A strong network of friends around you can prevent that. It can prepare you in many ways.
Next, verse 24, "Therefore Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: 'Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; take me before the king, and I will tell the king the interpretation.' And Arioch quickly brought Daniel before the king, and said thus to him, 'I have found a man of the captives of Judah, who will make known to the king the interpretation.'" Ah, he was wrong. He didn't find Daniel, Daniel approached him. Daniel had the gift of interpretation of dreams. He used not only his talents in the courts of Nebuchadnezzar, but his talents and his gifts to the maximum. And these are three little secrets in maximizing single living. Refusing to be pushed into the mold of the world, developing a strong network of friends, and using your gifts and talents to the fullest capacity. Because you're single does not mean you can't serve God. There are no marital qualifications for being a servant of the Lord. You can be married and you can be single and you can be used. You don't have to say, "Well I really can't be used powerfully in any ministry until I get married." That's just not true. God can use you right where you are. Take the gifts and talents God has given you and just go with them. Use them to the maximum capacity that you have. Don't listen to those stereotypes of the swinging singles or the lonely hearts club. You can break all those molds, all those stereotypes by living your single life to the fullest.
You guys ever heard of Corrie Ten Boom? Corrie Ten Boom was single all of her life and she died as a single woman. She is known worldwide for the fact that she helped the Jews in World War II when the Nazis were out to kill the Jews, she hid them away. She lived such a fulfilled life, her writings and when she has spoken publicly, addressed the fact that her life was so rich. Now who would dare to come up to that single lady and say, "Oh Corrie, you poor half-person (light laughter). Oh how unfulfilled you must've been. Unsatisfied in life being single." No, she knew it was a gift and she was a kingdom-seeker. She was seeking first the kingdom of God and she lived life to it's maximum capacity. Singleness is a gift. Marriage is also a gift. Now, if you're in a holding pattern, and most of you singles are, you've raised your hands and indicated that, you wanna be married, hold on. Seek first the kingdom. I'll tell ya, it's much better to wait on God and to be single than to get married too soon. It's much wiser. A woman named Ann Kiemel, who is now Ann Kiemel Anderson, wrote a publication while she was single and it was called, I Gave God Time. And she was single for a long time in her life, and now she's married. Listen up to what she says:
I gave God time and room and space. He worked to create in me, His child, a more quiet, and centered place. A deeper root of peace and trust. He never fails to come through. Jesus, if this is Your will, then yes to being single. In my deepest heart I want to marry, to belong to a great man, to know that I am linked to his life and he to mine following Christ and our dreams together. But You know what I need. If I never marry, it is yes to You, Lord.
Did you catch that little phrase? "You know best." Father knows best. Father knows what you need best, now. The Lord help all of us, whatever station we are now, be it single or married, to be content, to live it to the max, serving the Lord and saying, "Yes Lord, I embrace where I am now. I'm going to seek first the kingdom." Scripture says, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He'll give you the desires of your heart." Don't pursue after those things, but pursue after the Lord and watch those things be accompanied by God as you seek Him. He cares for you. He don't want you to be miserable. God isn't a bad guy that wants to keep you from fun. God just knows what's best right now, and it's best to seek Him and let God provide as you go. Let's pray.
We say yes to You. You know the desires of our hearts, but we say yes to You. The single and the married, the old and the young. The question is not are we married or single, the question is, do we belong to You? Are we faithful where we are? Oh God, help those who are single to not be pushed into the mold of worldly success, and deliver them from the lone ranger syndrome. Give them a network of faithful friends. Guard them in their temptations, Lord. And Father, help those who are married to be sensitive to that whole different set of needs with that single person and to come along and show them what a successful married life should be all about. In Jesus name, Amen.