A LIFE IN CONTROL IN AN OUT OF CONTROL WORLD

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stormy-waters

TEXT: Daniel 1:6-2:45

INTRODUCTION:

As I reflect back on my life, there was a time that it seems that my world was out of control. It was when I resigned from work and entered full-time ministry, without really knowing what will happen to me. I just followed God’s voice, but not seeing a very clear direction that I must take.

I left my parents’ house and lived at the church’s parsonage for me to really have a focus on the things that I must do as a full-time pastor. It was a total transformation of lifestyle. I need to cook for my own food, unlike living in with your parents, “Voila! Food is served!” I need to budget my depleting resource that time, for I have not received any allowance from the church. I cant even buy new shoes or clothes, because every time I’ll be thinking of buying one, I need to think of my food for the next days or else I’ll be forced to fast. I felt my life was out of control!

It’s a total turnaround of my life!

Transition:

But my change of lifestyle was nothing compared to Daniel and his friends when they were taken as hostages from Jerusalem to Babylon. Daniel and his friends determined to live their lives in control in an out of control world.

Daniel is a good example of what you can do to live your life in control in an out of control world.

1. DANIEL RESOLVED NOT TO COMPROMISE HIS BELIEFS. (Daniel 1:6-21)

Daniel stood tall for God in a godless culture. He confronted culture and planned his life to stay true to his convictions. Daniel and his friends faced false teachings and false god, head on. The Babylonians did all they could to turn Daniel and his friends away from their Hebrew faith. They even changed their names:

• Daniel means “God is my Judge” – (Belteshazzar – Bel’s Prince)

• Hananiah means “Yahweh is gracious” – (Shadrach – Command of Aku)

• Mishael means “Who is like God?” – (Meshach – Who is like Aku?)

• Azariah means “Yahweh has helped” – (Abednego – Servant of Nebo)

Bel, Aku, and Nebo were Babylonian gods.

All during his life, Daniel refused to accept the Babylonian identity. He never forgot that he was Daniel. He always referred to himself as Daniel and not as Belteshazzar.

He refused to live as a Babylonian and would not eat the meat ordered for them by the king. All the meat and wine in the king’s household was first offered sacrificially to the Babylonian gods. According to God’s law, for Daniel to partake of the meat would be to participate in idolatry. Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine. Daniel 1:8

Daniel challenged the chief official to give them the test for ten days of eating nothing but vegetables and water to drink. After ten days they were healthier looking than those who ate the king’s royal food.

Daniel also had the test of truth. For three years he was indoctrinated in pagan Babylonian thinking and education. His professors told him over and over that the Hebrew God was dead. Only the Babylonian gods, Bel, Aku, and Nebo live. Daniel remained true to his faith in God.

This story is so familiar and so bathed in the aura of Sunday School story time that it’s very easy to miss the great risk that Daniel was taking here.

Illustration:

In an article that I read, an eighteen-year old teenager received a call from the US President himself.

The young man is handsome, talented, intelligent and shows great promise, he simply cannot afford college because his family is poor. He graduates from high school only to spend one miserable day after another flipping hamburgers at the local McDonald’s.

Then out of the blue, something amazing happens. He comes home one day, sweating and smelling of French fries, and his Mom meets him at the door. She says, “Son, the President is on the phone for you.”

“Sure, Mom! That really cheers me up,” he says.

Then his Mom says, “No, I mean it. The President of the United States is on the phone—for you.”

And it is true. The President is on the phone. “Son,” he says, “I hear you have the intelligence and the grades but you just don’t have the money. I’m going to make it up to you.”

The young man nearly faints as he listens to the President’s offer: A full scholarship to the best university near Washington, D.C. The President says the he can even live in the White House, eat with him, and get a Secret Service escort to and from school.

And upon graduation, the young man will be awarded an ambassador’s position in the diplomatic service. Suddenly this obscure young man is going to have all the world can offer. His potential will be realized and his dreams will be fulfilled!

But there is one slight hitch. The President says that because the young man is being groomed for a job in the State Department he should begin practicing diplomacy now. “We hear that you are a committed Christian. That’s great. A little religion is good for anyone. However, we get a lot of different people from different places and religions coming through the White house. We don’t want to embarrass or upset anyone. So I want a promise from you that you will never read the Bible, pray, or attend church as long as you live in my house or work in the foreign-service.”

Picture yourself as that young person. What would you say? Would you make that promise? Removed from the actual situation and the pressures of reality, it’s very easy for us to say today that we would not take up that offer. But is it really that simple?

The costs involved in making a serious commitment to following Christ are sometimes very high. Verse 8 tells us that Daniel responded by resolving not to compromise: “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way” (1:8).

Well, how can you resolve not to compromise?

Think of Christ. He was tempted just as Daniel was. And yet he never compromised. Instead Jesus eventually paid the price of all of our sin. Jesus paid the penalty for all of our falls into isolation, indoctrination, and immorality. He now invites us to place it all at the foot of the cross.

Your motivation not to compromise your faith is an expression of gratitude to Christ for all that he has done to bring you into a right relationship with the Father. Christ died to secure a place in heaven for you. The least you can do in gratitude to him is to resolve not to compromise your faith.

Illustration:

A friend of mine had his faith tested recently. He was working for a big company with a good supervisory position. He is a new Christian and is trying to have a Christian home.

A couple of months ago his boss partnered with a “normal” businessman (not a Christian), who quoted saying that all Christians are weak and religion are for weak people. The following day, his boss asked him if he is a Christian and what he can say about his faith. Within a few weeks after he made that statement to his boss he was fired along with other Christian employees.

Friends, there is often a price to pay when we remain true to our convictions as a Christian, but we must resolve not to compromise our beliefs.

I am so convicted to tell you that even if your situation seems to be out of control and yet you’re standing firm on your convictions, God will surely honor your conviction! (Never mong ideny kung sino ka at kung ano ang pananampalataya mo! Wag mong ikahiyang ikaw ay isang Kristyano dahil lang sa isang pabor, dahil lang sa promotion, dahil lang sa negosyo…kahit na sabihing uunlad ka sa iligal, etc., anong sabi ng Bible, “What profits a man if he gains the whole world, but forfeit his soul.” Hindi approval ng tao ang hanap natin bilang mananampalataya, i-reject ka man ng mundong ito, ang mahalaga ay accepted ka at approved ka sa mata ng ating Panginoon! Kapag tinanggihan mo ang isang bagay para sa pangalan ng Panginoon, Sya rin ang gagawa ng paraan para ang pangalan Nya ay maitanyag sa pamamagitan mo!) Many are the stories we heard that though they lose a work, a friend, a job, a business, because of their belief in God, God has replaced what they lose with something greater! Even if your world seems to be falling apart, and out of control, NEVER EVER COMPROMISE YOUR BELIEFS IN GOD!

2. DANIEL USED HIS MOST POWERFUL WEAPON – PRAYER. (Daniel 2:1-30)

Read: Verse 1-12

Daniel’s response is in verses 17-18: “Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.”

Simply put, when the world is out of control, Daniel fell to his knees. DANIEL PRAYED! Although he secured extra time from the king, that reprieve was not to cook up an escape plan. It was so that he might immediately gather those who love the Lord and fervently pray. Daniel understood that a humanly impossible situation, uncontrollable situation, can only be resolved with divine intervention.

Let’s pause here for just a moment and think about this. Someone once said, “We’re all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations!”

When Daniel’s world is out of control, he saw an opportunity. When Daniel heard the king wanted not only an interpretation of his dream but also the recounting of the dream itself, Daniel thought, “Wait a minute, this is a great opportunity for God to work.” It was impossible and urgent: All the makings for God to do a great work for his own glory!

The truth is that we don’t think like that. Instead, we begin to look for a way we can take care of our problems ourselves.

So we lie awake at night and toss and turn, saying to ourselves, “How am I going to work this one out?” rather than saying, “Lord, this is your specialty! Take over and do a work here that will glorify your name!”

But there is something else about Daniel’s response you must not miss here. In verse 17 we find that after Daniel talked to the commander of the king’s guard, he then went to his three friends. The word translated “friends” in verse 17 is from the Hebrew word that means “to tie a knot, to join together.” Daniel’s heart was tied in a knot with his three friends.

Picture this: Daniel came walking through the door. His three friends were sitting there watching 24 Oras or TV Patrol or News 5 Headline about the king’s threat and the predicament of the wise men, and Daniel said, “Well, guys, we’re facing a pretty serious situation. It is so serious that if God doesn’t come through, we don’t continue to live.”

After Daniel’s friends heard all the details of the situation, they slipped out of their chairs and on to their knees before God. They probably forgot all about dinner. They may have not even slept that night. They may have prayed all night.

When a situation is really urgent, it’s amazing how insignificant all the other things in life are.

There are very few fellowships that ever get closer than those fellowships that are tied together with the strings of prayer. When you have a need in your life, don’t go it alone. Don’t play tough. Instead, learn to share that need with someone else. Tie a knot with a friend. Bind together. Covenant to pray together.

Daniel and his friends set aside the things of this world so that they might, according to verse 18, plead for mercy from the God of heaven so that they might not be executed.

It probably doesn’t strike you as significant that Daniel’s first response to his crisis was prayer. We all tend to think of Daniel as one of the great Fathers of the faith who is supposed to pray like that. But I want you to realize today that if anybody had a reason to skip prayer as a first option, it was Daniel.

He had many other options. For one thing, he was brilliant, ten times wiser than the wisest man in Babylon. So he could have used this extra time to figure out some solution to his predicament.

Daniel also had power. He was now in the king’s service. He had learned to manage the politics of the royal court. Maybe he could pull some political strings, call in some favors, twist an arm, or use the “good old boy” network.

Yet, in his crisis, when things are beyond his control, Daniel chose prayer first!

Transition:

Too often I’m afraid we fail to follow Daniel’s example in our crises, no matter how spiritually mature we may think we are.

God’s abilities are beyond our imagining. His ways are beyond our knowing. His solutions are beyond our doing. That is why when things are beyond/or out of control, we must always seek HIM first in PRAYER.

So why don’t we follow this example of Daniel and seek God in prayer more often? The answer is painfully simple: Because we usually forget how truly helpless we are apart from God.

We continue to believe that our own efforts are what really make things happen. In the business world, in our families, even in the church, we believe our activities and programs and planning are the cause of successes or of failure. So, when things are out of control, when our world is falling apart, we all instinctively turn to ourselves. We’re so accustomed to depending on our own resources that we neglect seeking God’s supply when we need it the most.

Illustration:

In Tom Peter’s book In Search of Excellence he mentions a psychological study where adult men were asked to rank themselves on their “ability to get along with others.” 100% of the men ranked themselves above average. 60% ranked themselves in the top 10% of the population, and 25% of the men humbly thought they were in the top 1% of the population.

What did Peters conclude from all this? He wrote: “We all think we’re tops. We’re exuberantly, wildly irrational about ourselves.”

The reason we don’t pray is that it costs. It costs honesty. You have to be honest with God and say, “I am inadequate. I need your help in this situation.” As long as you feel self-sufficient, prayer will have no meaning for you because you think you’ve got it all together.

Prayer is a declaration of your dependence on God. It doesn’t mean that you become irresponsible about your duties and plans. It’s simply acknowledging your dependency.

It’s saying, “God, apart from you, all my actions and plans mean nothing. On my own I can’t fix this. I can’t put it together again, heal this wound, correct this fault, or clean up this mess. Lord, you must take control if any good is to result. Use me if you will, but you must do what I confess I cannot do alone, despite my position, my intelligence and my connections. Lord God, I trust in you alone.”

Illustration:

Jack Miller was an author, pastor and seminary professor. God taught Jack the vital importance of this truth I am sharing with you today. In a letter to a friend, Jack wrote these words, “Please pray for my habitual tendency to trust in myself and what I can do.”

Great men and women of God have always recognized the temptation to depend on themselves. We should all recognize that weakness in ourselves.

When your world is out of control, be very careful not to become so busy taking care of the problem that you forget to use God’s weapon placed in your hand—PRAYER! Amen.

3. DANIEL KNEW THAT GOD IS IN CONTROL.

Daniel knew God. You may know a lot about God. You may know parts of the Bible. But, do you know God? Daniel knew God. Living and serving God meant more to the teenager Daniel than having the approval of his Babylonian peers. Knowing God meant more than living in comfort and having fame. Putting God first in your life means more than having a plaque on your desk that reads, “God first.”

Daniel knew that God was with him. His God was not left behind in a temple in Jerusalem. His God was not some limited deity. Remember this, if you allow Satan to succeed in keeping your mind confused about God, he will control your life and succeed in corrupting your faith. Daniel knew that God is always in control. He sang out in praise to God Daniel 2:20-23. (read)

Daniel teaches us a couple of lessons:

• Life is out of our control.

A man who battled cancer for two years testified: “The things that matter the most to us in life are the things we control the very least.”

Someone else said: “Life is meant to bring us a succession of experiences to show us our need of Christ.”

The object of Daniel’s faith was the omnipresent-always present, omnipotent-all powerful, omniscient-all knowing, and immutable-changeless God.

• No matter what happens, trust God.

Illustration:

A reporter once asked Albert Einstein’s wife if she understood the theory of relativity. She replied, “No, but I know Albert, and he can be trusted.” Can you say the same thing about God? “No, I don’t understand what God is doing in my life right now. But I know God, and He can be trusted.”

The tendency of most Christians is to use God to solve their problems. God wants you to use your problems to find Him. Otherwise we tend to use God rather than worship Him.

CONCLUSION:

Your infinite God cares for you. In the midst of time and eternity God comes to you. He tells you that you matter to him. In our vast universe God knows your name. He cares for you.

Illustration:

Scientists tell us there are many galaxies in the universe. Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is an average size, 140 billion star system shaped like a spinning pin wheel. It is a mere 100,000 light years in diameter and 1,000 light years thick. Just think, if we could travel at the speed of light, 186,000 miles per second, we could travel from one side of our galaxy to the other in 100,000 years. Scientists predict there are billions of these stay systems in the universe with an average of ten million light years apart.

No matter how big or vast the galaxy may be, God loves you so much that he sends His Son, Jesus, to demonstrate how great is His love for you!

With the Psalmist we can sing out in Psalm 46:1-3: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, through the waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”

To live your life in control in an out of control world: (Summarize)

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