What does it look like to live in one kingdom while serving the true KING?
Daniel 2 is an amazing chapter in the Bible.
King Nebuchadnezzar has this crazy dream! I don’t know if he had too much Benadryl. I don’t know if he ate a bad burrito before going to bed. But he has this crazy dream that really causes him to completely have a melt down.
In this story and throughout the book that is pinned by him – Daniel figures out how to do it! Daniel makes 3 significant decisions over and over again. Decisions that really are a model for how we succeed as well. That’s why the story of Daniel is so important.
That’s the great challenge – figuring out living it out in the real world. This is where the tension is. To kneel when the rest of the world says stand and to stand when the rest of the world says kneel is a powerful lesson for us to absorb in 2015.
Daniel is faced with a challenge where he must stand in front of the most powerful man in the land and tell him a hard truth. How did Daniel do this? And how was he able to do this? Can you imagine what that would look like for us to live for the kingdom of light while living in a godless, dark and frightening kingdom? It doesn’t take too much imagination to see America – the kingdom we reside in…in a similar position.
Daniel figured out how to live that way. To see how he did it we’ll look at the early stages of his life. Daniel and a hand full of his friends had been taken hostage and Nebuchadnezzar takes him back to his kingdom. So Daniel and Company were refugees in a kingdom that had radical differences in decency, morality, and faith.
Daniel and his buddies were placed a developmental program where they were trained to be advisors who will work along with the politicians. The king deliberately picked Daniel and his guys because they were bright and good-looking dudes. So Daniel has been taken hostage and grows up in the midst of a hostile culture. He grows up in the midst of a land in which the people who once were followers of God had given up hope and have literally dropped all hope of ever seeing God to come rescue them. They were spiritual refugees.
I think there are times we must feel that way – Followers of Jesus in a culture that is, at times at war with the very God we serve. So when we see Daniel is at odds with the dominant political, socio-economic, educational and moral codes of his day…we should be able to draw a simple conclusion to connecting our life’s dots to his!
In short – Daniel is living in the middle of a dark, dark country, where the faith and fiber of the nation has been stripped of God and stripped of decency. In the midst of this darkness Daniel figures out how to live in one kingdom while staying faithful to the true king.
What Daniel did is what we must do.
Great Chuck, but how do you propose that we do this? What does that look like? Thanks for asking – first and foremost…
- PUT GOD FIRST.
Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven; Daniel said, “…It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him. To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and power; Even now you have made known to me what we requested of You…” Daniel 2:19,20, 22-23
Daniel is praying and says, “God, you’ve interpreted this dream so that I know what it means.” Daniel was putting God first. He was saying, “I’m not just going to shoot my mouth off. Give a night to pray about it; give me an evening to spend some time with God and then I’ll deal with it.” He puts God first.
Daniel realized that he lived in one kingdom but served a different King.
Daniel loved God. He was in a relationship with God. God was not an add on in his life. He was tied to the presence and the person of God.
Daniel was passionate about what God was passionate about – the Glory of God. He was all about giving God the credit.
The king has a dream and he can’t find anybody to interpret it. None of his prophet guys, none of his magicians can interpret. They all want the king to tell them the dream and then they will define it for him – The kings says, “if you can’t find anybody to interpret my dream I am going to kill all these people by dawn.” Just a bit psycho and narcissistic actually.
They go to Daniel and ask him if he can tell them what it means. Daniel is faced with this opportunity and he replies, “Give me some time to work it out; I need some time to see if God will show me what this dream is.”
The reason why Daniel is going through all of this is not for himself but for the Glory of God. He was passionate about it. Daniel was attracted to God because he knew how to carry the power of God. Daniel doesn’t need more time…he needed a direction from the God that he served.
If we are to live a God-centered life, we will need to give God time and allow Him to give us direction. At the heart of any dark and godless society are leaders that have dark and godless hearts revealed in dark and godless decisions.
As Followers of Jesus, we are to be living, working and playing in the middle of darkness – driven by the greater good – the higher calling of God. To do so requires that we desperately believe that there is something greater than money, promotions, and status. We are driven by God getting the credit no matter where we live and what we do. That is what Daniel is committed to.
What happens when you put God first? It means that you don’t do anything that could hurt your relationship with God. Your calendar, your task list, your language, your habits, your money, your relationships – they all become God-centered.
The reason this is so important is that God doesn’t have to bless us.
The reason why spending time with God, going to church, entering into worship, joining a Bible study group, serving our community and doing things of the Jesus life are so important is because they help us to know how to carry the power of God within us. We mature, we become disciplines, we become obedient sons and daughters to the point that we can carry this power inside of us.
Daniel knew how to carry the power of God.
You are a container of God’s character. It may not feel like it, but you are carrying the power of God with you. Let’s put God first and passionately avoid anything that would hurt the presence of God in our lives.
I want to encourage you today – God has not made this difficult to grasp, but God has and always will make this a challenge. If it doesn’t challenge you – it will not change you! To follow Jesus in our world will require courage, great faith and an amazing amount of grace…it’s a challenge to put God first in our everyday lives. It might also be a challenge to…
- DO NOTHING WITHOUT PERMISSION.
I love what Daniel does. He lives in a hostile environment, in a kingdom full of darkness and moral decay and yet for Daniel he still focuses on the will of God. That’s pretty gutsy! He make one hugely important decision – I will not do anything that God has not given me permission to do. The first decision that Daniel made was to put God First…
The second decision Daniel made to do nothing without permission. The light of God cannot go out unless you turn it out. If there is darkness in our path, it’s because a Follower of Jesus has chosen not to be there. The way we order our priorities determines the brightness of the light. Every time we put God first the light of God is easily seen. Every time we say, “I won’t do anything without permission,” what that does is it intensifies the light that you carry inside of you.
So Daniel went in and requested some time with the king, in order that he might declare the interpretation to the king. Then Daniel went to his house and informed his friends…so that they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his friends would not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Daniel 2:16-18
Daniel doesn’t just pray but he goes to his friends and says, “You guys pray with me as well.” Daniel is going for permission. “God give me permission. Can I interpret this dream? If I can, just say it.” He goes to his friends, “You guys pray with me so that I know I am in the will of God.” Daniel’s decision was driven by God first and nothing without permission.
That means nothing without permission. That we wouldn’t move into relationships without permission from God. That we don’t move into business deals unless we have permission from God. That we don’t move into some new venture, opportunity, or event unless you know you have permission from God.
Most of us have been taught that this is not necessary. The American way of doing things is to decide what you want to do and then to ask God to bless it. That is what most of us do, “Here is what I’m going to do.
Here’s my perfectly filled calendar, my already emptied checking account, my overwhelmed schedule. Here’s the job I’m going to take. Here’s what I’m going to buy. Now, God – you bless me and make it happen.” In reality it is the other way around. Instead, we should be saying, “God, I won’t do it if you don’t want me to do it. Unless I know that I have permission and peace from God then count me out.”
The way that we get permission is through God’s Word, through godly counsel, and through a sense of peace in our heart.
When those three things start to line up, that’s how we know that we have permission. What would happen to our calendars, relationships and families in our lives if we started to make decisions on that basis?
What might happen if we were to commit to Put God First in every area of our lives and not Move Forward with Anything Without His Permission? It would mean a more fulfilling, satisfying, peace-filled life. It would mean less heartache and less stress in our homes. But that would require us to…
- OBEY REGARDLESS OF THE COST.
In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. Daniel 2:44
The third decision Daniel made was to do it regardless of the cost. Daniel goes to the king and He says, “You’re going down. Your kingdom if going to fall.”
Daniel told him that the kingdom of God was going to rise and take over all earthly kingdoms. This is one of the great promises of God. God promises that one day his kingdom would fill the earth and that darkness would have no place to hide. The people of God would extend and establish the light.
Daniel says, “All the kingdoms that are coming behind you, they are all going to fall. But there is one that is coming that is the one great kingdom.” What Daniel is doing is he is prophesying that God himself in the form of Jesus would break into human history, take Satan on with the cross and defeat the kingdom of darkness. After he is placed in the tomb he will be raised again and be seated at the right hand of God to rule over all the kingdoms. He will establish peace in the universe.
If you think about it – we are reading about these kingdoms but we are living in the kingdom of God. This is how Daniel ordered his life. Daniel is risking his life and everything that he has to stand in front of the most powerful man in the land and to say, “It’s not going to last! It’s all coming down!” He did it regardless of the cost. The essence of character is doing right as God defines right regardless of the cost. Again — you have to be able to see the connection to today!
What if God asked you to lay something down? Could you live without it? Would it utterly devastate you if you lost it? Can you imagine how we might change the world if we were to be people that put God First – in every way? Didn’t move on our decisions without His direction? And chose to stand for right when the world says kneel and kneel for God when the world says stand?
Whatever God is calling you to…don’t miss it in the pace of life. Don’t miss it in social media, in your commute, at the ballpark – don’t miss the joy of obeying God! What has you called you to lay down? Where are you being lead to be obedient? You see…
Anything you hold too tightly, you will lose.
Anything you hold on to, find security in, will eventually disappear. No matter what, our most important responsibility is always to trust and obey God. In 100 years, it’s not going to matter….Who was the MVP of Super Bowl 27? Who won the Best Actor in 2001? Who won the Heisman in 1998? Without Google’s help, we don’t know these things and yet they were such a big deal when they happened!
Can you imagine what it’d look like if we took our thing and said, “God, I want to put your first….I don’t want to do anything without permission. I am willing to obey you regardless of the cost.”
Repeat that phrase! I can do this! God is longing for us to follow His direction.
Can you imagine what would happen if we all had that kind of “a-ha” moment. Where we realized that no matter how good our talents and ability are – and they are good – they are not good enough.
Can you imagine what would happen if we realized the the thing that’s going to last forever isn’t our sports ability. Our skill, education, 401k, new car, lake house or iPhone….The things that are going to last forever are the things that are of His Kingdom!
Take a look at you Facebook feed or Instagram feed, or Twitter feed – All of the posts about where we are, or what we have, or how awesome our day is — these things won’t last…but putting God First changes everything. Waiting On God’s direction and permission changes everything. Taking on the challenge changes everything!
Choose God today!