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Thriving in Babylon

July 31, 2016 | Ben DuPré | From the series: Swimming Against the Current

Continuing in our series on Daniel in Babylon, Pastor Mark’s son Ben (Chief of Staff and Senior Staff Attorney to the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court) draws from his own experiences working with a modern-day Daniel. Ben focuses on how to not just survive, but thrive, when people and circumstances are arrayed against you.

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Sermon Notes

This church has meant so much to me. Here I learned about the law of God and the love of God. I learned about the justice of God and the mercy of God. I felt the presence of God and the power of God. I learned of the fear of God and the grace of God. Here I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and saw the move of the Spirit of God. I was surrounded by the family of God and soaked in the Word of God.

I was educated in the ways of God and awed by the mysteries of God. I was told I was a child of God but fed meat to grow my faith in God. I was encouraged by “thus saith the Lord” but warned to check it against the scriptures of God. Here I worshipped the Lord of Creation who is closer than a brother. I learned about service in the kingdom and citizenship in heaven. I heard we are a peculiar people; and I believed it. I was told Jesus was God and was the only way to God. I was reminded of the return of Christ and the commissioning of his disciples. I learned I didn’t earn His love but I could give it back and pay it forward.

Here I saw that I fell short and that His grace is sufficient for me. I learned that no church is perfect that will have me as a member. And I trust that if God can save and sanctify even me then He will have his spotless Bride. When she is ready. And when He is ready.

Here I learned, felt, grew, fed, hurt, failed, triumphed, loved and was loved, all in the sloppy agape that is to be found in a raw, real, loved and loving family of God. I love this church and because of it I love His church, His body, my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus our Lord.

For the past few weeks, I love that the title of the series is not just how to “survive” in a post-Christian America, but to THRIVE!

What a blessing to be so encouraged:

The nobleman told his servants to “occupy till I come” in a parable in Luke 19: “11 And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. 12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. 13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, occupy till I come.”

Daniel keeps hanging on in chapter 5. First as a young exile, trained in the court of Babylon. Then he not only interprets the king’s dream, but tells it to him first. His friends are saved by the fires of the furnace then he reads the writing on the wall for Belshazzar and now he is a high official for the new king, Darius the Mede. Three kingdoms! And we stress over a presidential election.

So here we are in Daniel 6:1-5 “It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.””

Three ways to thrive in and change our post-Christian world.

  1. Fear God not man
    • Faithful excellence
      • Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
      • Whatever you do – not just for you satraps and high officials, but for everyone. Do you change what you’re doing when the boss walks by your desk? Do you change windows on your computer? How many mouse clicks does it take you? Who are you working for? Does your work show who you fear? E.g., ACLJ client screening for employment issues.
    • Fearing God will sometimes look like disobedience
      • Daniel 6:6-10 “Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! 7 All the high officials of the kingdom (except for Daniel because they left him out of the decision making), the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. 8 Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 9 Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction. 10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.”
      • When your love of God is threatened by fear of man, one will have to give. The temptation may not be drastic at all but very subtle. Daniel could have closed the windows or gone into a more private room. Prayer closet? But he didn’t, he didn’t change anything!
      • As our land becomes more Babylonian, faithful followers of Christ will be more conspicuous. Sore thumbs. As we should be. Be a sore thumb!
      • Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. – Proverbs. It’s also the beginning of Godly change. Daniel’s stand caused the king (again) to acknowledge God as the “living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end.” Daniel didn’t get that out of Darius by merely telling him: Darius go to see it for himself, although he did have to read between the lions. When Judge Moore stood and lost his position, it inspired many others to stand.
  2. Remember your citizenship is in heaven
    • Believers, do you constantly have this feeling that you don’t belong? That you “ain’t from around here”? In Alabama, people can tell I’m not from there. Your citizenship as a Christ-follower will make you an exile in Babylon.
    • Daniel 6:13 “Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”
    • Do you hear the dig? “One of the exiles from Judah…” Not from around here. A foreigner with a foreign God. Weird religious habits. Doesn’t follow our traditions and laws.
    • Our flesh doesn’t like to rock the boat, to make a splash. We want to be part of the club, the “inner ring,” as C.S. Lewis called it. Are you a raft or a rock? It’s easy to be a raft and float along. A rock doesn’t move and in a stream makes a splash, and annoys the rafts. They are on the wrong side of history! What a privilege to be a citizen of heaven! We are just passing through here.
    • 2 Cor. 4:16-18 “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
    • Philippians 3:18-21 “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”
  3. God uses remnants more than majorities
    • We think there is strength in being part of the majority. God doesn’t wait till you reach just over 50%. He prefers the small numbers!
    • Gideon had too many. God knocked it down to 300.
    • God called one man out or Ur, Abraham.
    • He used one man to make a nation, Jacob.
    • Then He saved that nation with one man, Joseph.
    • God only needs one to be obedient and fear Him.