In this message, we look to the story of Daniel as an example of what it looks like to love and honor the people in your life without having to think, believe, or act like the world.
Alright. Hey everybody. Welcome to Valley Creek Church. I want to give a big welcome to all of our campuses and to everybody who’s watching online. Will you welcome them with me? Wherever you are in the world, we are so glad that you are here.
And we’re just going to jump right into today. We are in a series called In The Lion’s Den. We’re taking a look at the Book of Daniel and we’re talking about living a godly life in an ungodly world. And we started it last week and we said, “Let’s just take some time together to talk about all the things that are happening in the world around us. And we said that all of the issues that we see in our daily lives, they’re deeply emotional issues for people. Like they carry with them a lot of pain and most of us — and I realized that’s a big word but I would say most of us, we have ungodly beliefs about a lot of the things that are happening around us because our opinions have been shaped by experience and not necessarily by scripture.
And so we’re just going to take a couple weeks and we’re talking about some tough stuff and we said that most of us we love Jesus as Lord of our salvation, we’re just not so sure we love him as Lord of our politics, our morality and our finances.
But the truth is, is Jesus either is Lord of everything or he’s Lord of nothing. And so I asked you right out of the gate last week, I said, “Hey, let’s lay down our walls and our stones and have a conversation together.” You did a good job last week of laying down your walls and nobody threw a stone at me, so let’s do it again this week. Let’s lay down our walls and let’s lay down our stones. And I told you, I need really about eight weeks to do this series, we’ve got three, so lots of stuff. And good news is we made it to about the exact same spot in all the services last weekend. So let me just remind you, recap because it’s basically one sermon over three weeks.
So here’s where we started. We said last week that you need to understand the context of the story if you’re going to grasp the chapter that you’re currently living in. And we said the reality of what is happening right now is that the world is winding down but the Kingdom of God is winding up.
The world is crumbling because of Adam’s sin but the Kingdom of God is coming because of Jesus’ redemption. And so we don’t have to be afraid. We are the people of the Kingdom, we’re living in the middle of this tension. In Matthew 28, Jesus says, “All authority on heaven and earth has been given unto me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” If Jesus has all authority then Satan has none.
So he has authority of which he has given to us and now he says, “Hey, by the way, don’t just go and disciple individuals, go and disciple entire nations.” I want you to influence, to shape, to bring the rule and reign of God to nations on this earth. In other words, take the Kingdom that is within you and release it into the world around you. Okay?
So that’s kind of where we started and then we jumped into the Book of Daniel and we said that Daniel is a great picture of living a godly life in an ungodly world. Because we said what happens in the story is, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, this evil empire, a picture of the world comes and ransacks Jerusalem, takes the people of God, the Israelites, brings them back to Babylon and he wants to culturize them.
If you want to totally take over a culture, you have to indoctrinate them with your belief system, you have indoctrinate them with your way of life. And so Babylon wants to make the people of God, Babylonians. The world wants to make the people of God just like the world.
And so there’s four things we looked at, we said this is what the world does to you because this is what Babylon did to them. They want to change your thinking, they want to change your taste and give you a pleasure for sin — they — or a taste for the pleasures of sin, they want to train you in the ways of darkness instead in the ways of the Kingdom of God and they want to change your identity. That’s what they did to Daniel and the Israelites, that’s what the world wants to do to us.
And then — I know, this is a lot of recap, but you got to get it because part 1 set up part 2, is we said you can respond like four different people. Every person in this room, you probably respond like one of these four birds. We said, you can be an ostrich, bury your head in the sand, pretend it’s not happening, ignore everything, binge on Netflix and just hope Jesus comes back. You can be a roadrunner and try to outrun it and just run faster and fill your life so full of activities that you don’t have to acknowledge it, get to the end of your life with you and your family.
Kick the can down the road and just past on the brokenness to the next generation. We said, “That’s not acceptable.” We said you can be a rooster and you can walk around and strut and cluck and cock-a-doodle-doo and use Bible verses as weapons to angrily cock-a-doodle-doo in people’s faces. Or you can be an eagle. And you can rise above the fray, go up here and get a 30,000 foot view to take God’s perspective on what’s happening in the world around us. To look from heaven to earth, instead of from earth to heaven.
And we said Daniel was an eagle. He was a guy with incredible wisdom that took God’s perspective and that’s about as far as we’ve got. And if you want more information on that, you can go online and watch part 1. This is part 2. Because I left you with a question of how do we then like Daniel live a godly life in an ungodly world? How do we act as the people of the Kingdom in this world that wants to take us over? And so again, here’s what I want to say, just lay down your walls and your stones.
And I’ve got five things for you on how you live this kind of life in this kind of world. And you can think of any of the issues you’re currently concerned about and these apply to every single one of them. So are you ready with me?
Okay. First thing is this, we submit without surrendering. We submit without surrendering. Just look at Daniel 1:19, it says, “The king talked with them — Nebuchadnezzar, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah, so they entered the king’s service.” So here are godly men serving an ungodly king. And we said a few weeks ago in our Back Door series that serving isn’t what we do, servant is who we are. And when you understand you’re a servant, it becomes really easy to submit to the authorities in your life. And so Daniel submitted and he started to serve this ungodly king, Nebuchadnezzar, this evil man. He gave them counsel and wisdom, he was an advisor to him, he sought the prosperity of Babylon, he followed the rules that Nebuchadnezzar said.
I mean, every way, shape and form, he submitted to him but he never surrendered his values. When they were told to eat the unclean food, he refused to have it. When they were told that they were going to be thrown into a furnace if they didn’t bow down to the idol, they refused to bow down to the idol. When they were told they needed to stop praying, they never stopped praying. They submitted to Nebuchadnezzar in every way but they never surrendered their values. How or why? Maybe it’s a better question would he submit? Because Daniel understood something you and I tend to forget, that all authority comes from God. If you didn’t like last week, you will like this week even less. Romans 13, listen to this, “Everyone — would that include you?
“Must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist — would those include the authorities in your life? “Have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. This is also why you pay taxes for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe him. If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” All authority comes from God. And what we forget is that the Kingdom of God is built on order and authority. God runs his Kingdom through authority and order.
And what these verses teach us is that to rebel against authority is to rebel against God himself. That God gives us authority in our life, man that we can see and he asks us to submit to them to teach us how to submit to a God we cannot see. He wants you to submit to a man that you can’t see to learn how to submit to a God that you cannot see. And it’s really easy to say you are a submissive person but you only know you’re submissive when you have to submit to someone or something you do not like.
Until then, it’s just nice theory, right? You don’t really know it until that point and I love what he says. He says, “The authorities are God’s servants.” They’re literally his servants to accomplish his purposes on this earth and oh, by the way, that even includes the ungodly ones. Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is in the Lord’s hand and he can direct it like a watercourse where he wants.” He can accomplish what He wants through the lives of his authorities, His servants. So, let me give you a little bit of wisdom here. Don’t mess with another man’s servants. Don’t mess with another man’s servants because God is a big boy and he can take care of his servants himself. You are not the appointed watchdog to point out everything that’s wrong with his servant. The servant doesn’t like it when someone else is complaining or nitpicking about their servant. He’s a big boy, he can take care of it, okay?
I mean, I’ll give you another one. 1st Peter 2 says, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men. Whether to the king is the supreme authority or to the governors who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right for it is God’s will that by doing good, you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil, live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone, love the brotherhood of believers, fear God and honor the king.” He says submit to the authority in your life for God’s sakes, not theirs. And when you honor the king, you’re fearing God. So ultimately, your willingness to submit to the authority figures in your life, it comes down to this, it comes down to faith. Do you believe that God is bigger than that person standing in front of you? Big people submit to small leaders. You’ll find it all throughout the Bible. Big people submit to small leaders. And I know some of you are looking at me, you’re like, “Yeah, but there’s no way he wrote that knowing about my leaders in my life.”
“Like he can’t be possibly talking about my boss or my parents or my government.” Okay, listen, Psalm 75:7, “God raises one man up, he puts another man down.” No one gets into authority without God knowing about it. Daniel submitted to Nebuchadnezzar, a guy who threw people into furnaces for fun. Jesus submitted to Pilate, the roman governor who was occupying the Israelites and conquering their nation. He was the enforcer of everything that was wrong. And in John 19, Jesus, the son of man looks at Pilate and he says, “You only have a power over me because it’s been given to you from above.” So you know what, Pilate? I have no problem submitting to you because I’m a big person, I’ll submit to a small leader because I know your authority comes from my father, so submitting to you is submitting to him. Or how about Paul and Nero? Paul submitted to the emperor Nero who was so evil he would take Christians, wrap them on poles, light them on fire, put them in his garden at night so he could have street lights as he walk through his garden.
I’m just saying, you don’t have a leader worse than that in your life. You don’t. So, you’re called to submit but not surrender. You don’t give up your values and you don’t cater and you don’t start picking up sin. That’s the difference. I mean, do you remember in Acts when Peter and John, they healed the crippled man and there’s this big outrage, they get thrown in jail. Here’s what it says, They’re brought before the Pharisees — Acts 4, it says, “Then they called Peter and John in and again, and commanded or commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, ‘Judge for yourself whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God for we cannot help but speaking about what we have seen and heard.’” In other words, they say, we will totally submit to your authority but we will not surrender our values. The place you are allowed to break in submitting to authority is the moment they ask you to sin. The moment authority asks you to do something that goes against what God has said, you are free from submitting to that authority.
Until then, you’re called to submit, but at that point, you’re allowed to break. And Peter and John say, “Hey, we will gladly submit to you, but we will not surrender our values. We will tell the world about Jesus and what he has done.” And there may be consequences for that. Joseph was thrown in prison because he wouldn’t sleep with Potiphar’s wife. Daniel was thrown in the lion’s den because he refused to stop praying when it was outlawed. Paul was beaten and persecuted and literally kicked out of towns because he refused to stop preaching the gospel. But Matthew 5 says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Kingdom people are not afraid of worldly consequences. And so, what we have to choose to do is choose to start submitting because we will never advance the kingdom of God living in rebellion because rebellion is the work of darkness, submission is the form of the kingdom. In fact, first Samuel says that rebellion is witchcraft, people.
We convince ourselves, Satan deceives us to rebel against authorities we disagree with. Like government or police or your boss or your parents or whoever it is. But if they’re not asking you to sin, your rebellion to them is actually witchcraft, so we got to stop doing that. We’ve got to submit without surrendering. That’s what Daniel did and that’s what made him a godly man in an ungodly world. Are you with me on that? That was fun, wasn’t it? Okay.
Second one is this. We honor without misplacing our hope. I’m basically taking you through most of the book of Daniel in just this one message, but we honor without misplacing our hope. Daniel honored Nebuchadnezzar. In Daniel 4, he’s interpreting the dream that Nebuchadnezzar has and it’s the dream of Nebuchadnezzar’s downfall. How God is going to humble him. And in Daniel 4:19, Daniel looks at Nebuchadnezzar knowing that he’s about to come crashing down and he says, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries!”
Are you kidding me? Daniel was willing to honor this evil man that much? Yeah. He honored him not because Nebuchadnezzar deserved it but because Daniel was a man of honor. He honored the person and he honored the role or the position that Nebuchadnezzar had as king of the land he currently lived in. He honored Nebuchadnezzar. He served him, he lead for him, he gave him wisdom and counsel. He went out of his way to honor him in every way, shape and form, but he never put his hope in Nebuchadnezzar. His hope was always in God. Romans 12:10 says, “Honor one another above yourselves.” You are called to be a person of honor. To honor someone means to lift them up, to value them, to esteem them more than yourself, to literally raise them up above your own head and we are called to be people of honor not because they deserve it but because we are honorable. That’s why you honor people.
You don’t look at them and make a decision of, “I’m going to honor you based on whether or not you deserve it.” No, no, you look at a person and you say, “I’m going to honor you because I am honorable. Because this is the culture of the kingdom. Because, oh, by the way, I’m honoring you as a person and I’m honoring the role or the position that you hold. And oh, by the way, I’m not just honoring you, I’m honoring you because you’re made in the image and likeness of God. Even the fallen glory of the image and likeness of God is worthy of your honor. I mean, Hebrews 13:17, we looked at this verse a couple weeks ago. It says, “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey the, so their work will be a joy, not a burden for that would be of no advantage to you.” Here’s my question, are you a joy to lead? Do you go out of your way? Do you carry the vision? Do you contribute more than you complain? I mean, are you a joy to lead? That’s what honor kind of looks like.
Just think about the five areas of life and in particular like family. Are you a joy to be led in your family? Like to your parents or those extended relatives that have authority in your family? Are you a joy to be led by them? Are you a joy to be led by your spiritual leaders, your small group leader, your serve team leader, the pastors and the elders of this church, do you literally make their life a joy as they lead you? Do you make your educator’s life a joy, your teachers, your coaches, the principal, I mean did you make their life a joy? How about your marketplace, your boss, your manager, the owner of the company, are you a joy to be led by them? How about the government? Are you a joy to lead? Even if they’re less qualified than you, even if you’re more talented than them, even if they live a sinful, ungodly life and you disagree with them in every way, you are still called to honor them and the role that they hold. And if you’re not a joy to lead, you’re not an honoring person. So you’re breaking the culture of the kingdom and you’re literally tearing down the image and likeness of God.
So we’re called to honor even if we disagree but we don’t put our hope in that person, that’s the divide here. You see, this is where we struggle. We start to put our hope in man. The truth is is the human heart always wants a human king. That’s why the Israelites, they were the only nation without a human king because God was their king. And then one day, they wake up and they look around and they say to Samuel, “Hey Samuel, everyone else has a king, we want a king too.” And Samuel says, “No, no you don’t, you have God. That’s all you need.” No, no, we want to be like everyone else, we want a king we can see with our eyes and God chimes in, He says, “No, you actually don’t want that because he will do things to you you don’t want him to do.” No, we do. “Okay, very well, then I will give you what you want.” And most of us at the end of the day, we want to look to a man that we can see with our eyes instead of a God that we have to follow by faith. And so I’ll tell you this, it’s okay to have opinions. It’s okay to be passionate, it’s okay to be an advocate, it’s okay to be have your candidate.
It’s okay. It’s okay. Just don’t put your hope in that person, because you’re going to be disappointed. Psalm 1:21, “I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 20:7, “Some trust in chariots, some trust in horses but we choose to trust in the Lord our God. Our hope is not in a candidate, it’s in a king and his name is Jesus.” Okay?
So we honor the people around us but we keep our hope in Jesus. And maybe my favorite story in the whole book of Daniel is the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Nebuchadnezzar build this giant idol, this god that they’re all supposed to bow down and worship and they refuse to do it, he hears about them, he brings them in and Daniel 3, Nebuchadnezzar says to them, “Now when you hear the sound of the horn, the flute, the zither, the lyre, the harp, the pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good.”
But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace, then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the god we serve is able to save us from it and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Oh, my goodness. They just honored an evil man and kept their hope in God. They honored the king, they called him king, they called him Nebuchadnezzar, they showed him respect, they didn’t criticize, they didn’t attack, they didn’t cut down and they kept their hope in God because they didn’t instantly bow down to this statue that they’re now so afraid of this Nebuchadnezzar guy, so my hope has to be in him, I have to do what he says.
No, no, no. But I’m going to honor him and I’m going to keep my hope in God. And so Nebuchadnezzar’s furious, throws them into the furnace and in verse, I don’t know whatever the next verse is, it says, He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire. Three got thrown in, now there’s four, unbound and unharmed and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Who is the son of God? Jesus. So Jesus shows up to rescue these men who choose to honor the king and keep their hope in Jesus. And this is like bonus but this is probably the best story in the Bible in my opinion that shows you the current reality of the kingdom of God. We live in this reality of the kingdom being now but not yet and a lot of us struggle with this. It’s the kingdom has come but it’s yet to fully come. Like Jesus has showed up and brought the kingdom but he’s coming back again. We live in this tension. It’s already but it’s not yet. It’s here but it’s there. It’s now but it’s then.
And so I love what they say, “We know our God will save us, the kingdom is now. But even if He does not, we will not bow down and worship you because we know the kingdom is then.” Even if He doesn’t do what we want Him to do in the moment, we’re still going to choose to trust him. So we’re going to live like the kingdom is now but not get offended when we have to understand it’s not yet. We’re going to expect God to move in the moment and pray big prayers and have big faith and expect signs and wonders and the miraculous to come and God to show up and do amazing things but even if He doesn’t, I’m not going to be offended by that because I know Jesus is coming back and we live in the tension between already but not yet. That’s freedom, people. That’s why Luke 17, Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is within you.” It’s here, it’s now, but why in Matthew 6:10, he says, “Pray your kingdom come, your will be done.” So it’s already, it’s here but it’s not fully realized yet. And so we live in the tension in between the two and our focus and our hope is on the king and His coming kingdom.
And if you were like these three men, be a standup person in a fall down world, if you will choose to honor and keep your hope in Him, the Son of man will show up and save you from the fires of this world and you will be unbound and unharmed and you will be free, okay? So we honor without misplacing our hope.
Third thing is this, we contribute without criticizing. Oh, this is a good one. Okay, Daniel contributes to Babylon. Catch this. This is Babylon, this is like the most evil place in the entire earth at the time. It is full of everything that is evil and wicked and vile. And yet he contributes to it. He’s passionately seeking the betterment, the growth, the prosperity of Babylon. He leads, he becomes a leader of the whole province of Babylon, he gives his gifts and his passions and his talents for Babylon, he saves the magicians from getting killed. He does everything you can possibly do and you look at him and you just say, “Why?”
Why? Because when Babylon prospers, you prosper. And because God’s kindness leads other people to repentance. When America prospers, you prosper. You catch that, right? When your school prospers, you prosper. When your business that you work at, not own, where you work at. When it prospers, you prosper. Genesis 12:2, God says, “I have blessed you to be a blessing.” We are not isolationists that hang back and hide out, we press in, God has blessed us to bless the world and as the world gets blessed, we receive even more blessing. I mean catch this, Jeremiah 29:11, it’s probably on your journal, you probably got a little frame of it in your house. It’s that favorite verse that we love to give to each other when you’re down or discouraged, you have no idea what’s happening and you need God to answer your prayer, show you who you should marry kind of thing, you know that? You know what I’m talking about?
Right? “I know the plans I have declared for you,” declares the Lord, plans for our hope I the future, right? Okay, that’s a verse we love to use and we use it totally out of context. And that’s okay, it’s a great verse to use out of context. Let me put it in context for you. In Jeremiah 29, Jeremiah is writing to the Israelites exiled in Babylon. “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried in to exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.” Oh, by the way, He’s carrying you even when you feel lost. “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, see the peace and the prosperity of Babylon to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. This is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise, bring you back to this place for I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’”
He says, “Oh hey, I’m the one that’s put you godly people in an ungodly world. So make it amazing.” Increase there, don’t decrease. Engage with everything you’ve got, put your heart and your soul into it. Live in such a way that you show them my kingdom is better than theirs. Wow. Wait, we’re supposed to pray for the prosperity of Babylon? Yes. So my question is is are you increasing in your business and in your school and in your neighborhood and in this government and in the world that we live in, are you doing everything you can to bring the prosperity and the blessing upon those of which God has placed you into their situation or their sphere of influence?
You have to get, the Israelites were God’s grace to the Babylonians. He picked up the people of God, He says He carried them. He picked them up, He brings them to Babylon, He puts them in Babylon, the same way that He sent Jonah to the Ninevites as an opportunity for the Babylonians to see the goodness and the graciousness of God, repent and be saved. It’s grace. Oh, by the way, that means you’re the grace of this world. He’s carried you to these ungodly situations and places that you would seek the peace and the prosperity of the city, that you would increase and make it better. Because Romans 2:4 says, “God’s kindness leads you to repentance.” It’s His kindness that changes their hearts. Matthew 5 talks about how God brings the sun to rise on the good and the evil and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Catch that. We sit there and we look at these ungodly people and we think, “Why is their life so blessed?” Anyone ever wonder that?
Why is God so gracious to them, why do they have so much favor? Because it’s kindness that leads you to repentance. He’s trying to graciously show them His goodness that they would return and repent to Him. You have to ask yourself, why did Jesus turn water into wine for a bunch of people that were already drunk? Don’t kid yourself and pretend it was sparkling grape juice.
Why did Jesus heal the Roman centurion’s servant? The Romans who were oppressing the Jews, why would he go and heal this man’s servant? Why, when they came to take Jesus and arrest him and take him to the cross and Peter cuts off the guy’s ear, why did Jesus pick it up and put it back on his head? That was cool. Because God’s kindness leads you to repentance. Oh, by the way, it’s not just them, why did he die on the cross while you were still a sinner? Whoa.
Because he wanted to do it for you. See, God says, “Show them my kingdom.” We’re called to live a life of show and tell but you have nothing to tell if you’re not willing to show. 1 Peter, here’s what he says, “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, as Israelites in Babylon or as citizens of heaven in this world, abstain from sinful desires which wage war against your soul, live such godly lives among the world that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” Be so gracious to them. Be so gracious in the way that you contribute that it transforms who they are and they see the goodness of God. See, Daniel contributed and he never criticized. Read it. You won’t find Daniel criticizing, it’s amazing. He disagreed with things, he graciously spoke truth but he never criticized. Listen to me. How you disagree is just as important as why you’re disagreeing.
How you disagree with something is just as important as what you’re disagreeing with. If you are not leading with faith, hope and love, you’re already wrong. To respond to an ungodly thing in an ungodly way, is ungodly. Why do we think otherwise? We’re like, “Well, that thing’s wrong, so I’m going to respond in an ungodly way.” Okay, well, then great, you’re just as bad, you’re being ungodly. How many of you know you can be 100% right and 100% wrong at the exact same time? Every husband in this room knows exactly what I’m talking about.
You’re totally right, man. But the way you just went about it makes you totally wrong. And that’s what the world thinks about us. It’s the way we come back at things that’s wrong. It’s not what we believe, it’s the way we respond. Ephesians 429, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only when it’s helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen,” and oh, by the way, that includes your fingers.
Delete, delete, delete. It is never wisdom to emotionally respond. And what’s it going to do for you anyways? Maybe the next time you want to criticize, maybe just stop and pray. Instead of criticizing them, pray for them. Because if you criticize them, what’s it going to do? It’s going to take away your influence. If you judge, condemn, get angry, rage, whatever, cock-a-doodle-doo, you’re losing your influence. Seriously, you got to think about it this way. And the reality is is at the end of the day, you lose the right to complain about the world if you’re not willing to invest in its future. The people that complain the most contribute the least, so let’s stop being worried about criticizing, let’s stop being concerned about contributing and oh, by the way, when you say they need Jesus, so do I.
There is no “they” because I need Jesus. And if I’m really receiving Jesus, I can’t help but want to give Jesus to them, so I’ll contribute without criticizing, are you with me on that? Okay, two more, these are — oh man, we’re going fast. Okay, we influence without being influenced. Daniel influences four kings because he’s willing to serve them. Just catch this. Seventy years, four kings because he’s willing to serve them. You realize that Daniel serves ungodly kings in a godly way and because he served like we talked about in the last series, he positioned himself for increase, for greatness, to get a posture of influence with these kings and if Daniel would’ve lived like most American modern day Christians, he would’ve never found himself in these influential positions. Why, because most American Christians are full of apathy, they sit on the sidelines, they criticize, they cut down, they’re angry or by the way, they’re not going to engage with those ungodly people over there, so they would’ve never found themselves in these places of influence.
But Daniel chose to serve in such a way that he found this incredible influence because the reality is is that at the end of the day, servants of the kingdom have more influence than the leaders of this world. We are so worried about the leaders of this world, we should be concerned about being servants of the kingdom because we have more influence when we live that way. Listen to this, this is what happens. Daniel 4, King Nebuchadnezzar is riding to the nation, King Nebuchadnezzar says to his people, nations and men of every language who live in all the world: May you prosper greatly. And it is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me. How great are His signs, how mighty are His wonders. His kingdom is an eternal kingdom, His dominion endures from generation to generation. This is Nebuchadnezzar who throws people in the furnace for fun. And he’s got better theology than a lot of us. He meets God through Daniel.
Or how about Darius, the third king. Daniel 6, then King Darius wrote to all the people , nations, men of every language throughout the land: “May you prosper greatly! I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom, people must fear and reverence — and have reverence for the God of Daniel for He is the living God and endures forever; His kingdom will not be destroyed, His dominion will never end, He rescues and he saves, He performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth, He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” This is Darius who throws people in lion’s dens for fun.
And then oh, by the way, there’s King Cyrus, the last king. And he lets all the Israelites go. And they all go home and for biblical reference, it goes to Zerubbabel, Ezra, Nehemiah and they get to go back home and rebuild their land and their life with God. Daniel influenced Babylon, Babylon did not influence him. Matthew 5, you are a city on a hill, a light of the world. How many of you know that the darker it is, the brighter the light shines?
Your light will shine so bright right now. Or how about Luke 13 that says, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked through all the dough.” Jesus says it is the kingdom where they yeast and it only takes a little bit of yeast and a whole lump of dough to make the whole thing rise. So he takes us and he scatters us, in the marketplace, in our schools, in our neighborhoods, in our cities, in our world, where we travel, where we go, he throws the yeast of the kingdom out there and it makes everything rise. And it only takes a little bit but it does take willingness. I wonder who God wants to influence through you? Because this is how God does it. Joseph influenced the entire nation of Egypt, Esther kept King Xerxes from killing all the Jews, Daniel influenced the entire nation of Babylon for 70 years, the first century church influenced the world, who are you called to influence?
And let me say it this, if you are more concerned about your policies, your party, your candidate, your 401(k), your opinions or your issues than you are about lost people, something is wrong. Are issues have become our idols, the things that polarize us have become idols. We’re so passionate about this one thing, really what Jesus asks us to be passionate about is him and his kingdom. Instead of being passionate about the issue, let’s be passionate about the issue solver and let him take care of it. I think so many of us, we’re so focused on Jesus returning when we should be focused on the redemption of mankind and you say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, bro, okay. Whoa, whoa, whoa, bro. Do you?
Yes, we want Jesus to come back and yes, the bible says it will be a glorious day but the Bible sys Jesus is patiently waiting because he wants everyone to be saved. 2 Peter, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” He literally is saying, I’m not returning right now because I’m patiently waiting for more people to repent and be saved from eternal damnation. I want them to be with me.
So maybe if that’s why He’s waiting, we should be more focused on what He is waiting on than begging Him to come and rescue us from this ungodly world. Because He says you are the yeast, I’ve thrown you out there. Let my power take its work. We’re the church, it doesn’t matter how dark it gets, we can still do what the church has commissioned to do. Heal the sick, feed the hungry, help the poor, preach the kingdom, that’s good news, okay?
And the last one is this, I don’t have any time for this one but we need to pray without panicking. When you live in Babylon, you’re going to need a prayer life. Daniel prayed and he never panicked, he prayed for the nation, he prayed for wisdom, he prayed for the king. 2 Chronicles 7:14, you’ve probably seen this verse everywhere on Facebook because there’s an election I think this week.
And here’s what it says, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land. We love others, we want God to heal the land, we just don’t want to humble ourselves, pray, seek His face and turn from our own wicked ways. You can’t sit there and wait for everyone else to do it when God’s asking you to do it. You can’t be more passionate about God blessing America than you can about your own repentance towards the kingdom of God.
And so the next time you’re starting to panic about everything that’s happening around you, stop and remember what’s already happened within you. In Jesus, I’m redeemed, I’m saved and the kingdom is coming to get me. And until then, I’m going to live in an ungodly world and I’m going to do everything I can to see the goodness of God be relabeled into it. I realize some of you are sitting here today and you are really hoping that I was going to address your issue. I’m trying to be lighthearted a little bit because I know it’s not…
We all have issues, every one of us in this room, you have an issue that’s polarizing that you’re really passionate you want me to address. Okay, I’m not in this series. And the reason I’m not is very specific because yes, the bible has specific things to say about those but this isn’t about what does the Bible say about these five issues, this is about choosing to think like a kingdom person.
Because you can take any of the issues that you are polarized by, all you need is those five things I just gave you. That’s all you need. And what a lot of us want is we want a preacher or we want the person that we like listening to on our drive to work or the person of Facebook or the blogs that we read, we want them to declare an opinion about what they think the bible says and then we choose whether or not we agree with it and whether or not we like them. Okay, my challenge to you would be this, you don’t need anyone else to do that because you have this for you. So maybe don’t abdicate your responsibility, maybe don’t just choose to willingly believe what any person says, read this. And not just a verse or two, read the whole council of God on that issue that you are concerned about and listen to what the kingdom has to say because God’s love has great things to say about every issue you’re concerned about. And so I’m just trying to help you teach like — to help teach you to think like a kingdom citizen because when you think like a kingdom citizen, you’ll know how to walk through those issues that are polarizing and painful and are real.
Are you with me on that? All of creation, the Bible says, is waiting for the sons and daughters of God to rise up and live their life according to the ways of the kingdom. We have got to stop waiting for the government to do what the church has called to do. That’s what we’re going to talk about next week. We’re not called to just survive Babylon, we’re called to thrive in it and release the kingdom that is within us into the world around us.
Okay. So close your eyes with me. Lord, thank you for truth. Thank you for hope. Thank you for men like Daniel, and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, they give us so much faith to be able to live a godly life in an ungodly world. Lord, I pray for every one of us this week that you would expose the brokenness inside of us. That instead of attacking and throwing bombs and being angry or being afraid or being hurt, we would be full of faith, hope and love.
That the Son of Man shows up when the flames are the hottest, and takes us away unbound and unharmed. And so the question I would just ask you is which one of those points is the Holy Spirit bringing to your attention? Submitting without surrendering, honoring without misplacing hope, contributing without criticizing, influencing without being influenced, or just simply praying without panicking. Lord Jesus, you are the king. And today, we do pray for our nation, we do pray that it would prosper and that you would give it piece, and that the goodness of God would turn the brokenness of men towards Jesus Christ, and that is he is lifted up, all men would be drawn unto you.
And thank you that you are slow in coming because you want all men to be saved. You did not come to condemn this world, you came to save it. And so may we repent and change the way we think, not according to the worldly system but according to a heavenly system, with a king who sits on a throne, on a firm foundation that will never be shaken. May the kingdom within us be released into the world around us. We love you Jesus. We leave this week with peace in you. In your name we pray, amen.