Living Differently In These Troubled Times
DOUBLE DARE, Part 1
April 11, 2021 • Whit Lewis, Senior Pastor
We are constantly faced with pressure to conform to worldly standards. But as Christians we have a purpose inside of us that helps us to face those outside pressures and to live differently. Join us as we begin this new series in the book of Daniel, DOUBLE DARE: Living Differently in These Troubling Times Part 1: "Be Different" - Daniel 1 Do we dare to be different? Here are four principles that were true for Daniel that are also true for us when it comes to being different. 1. Life happens unexpectedly (Vv. 1-2) - On one hand man is active in history; on the other hand God is also active in history. - Life may happen unexpectedly, but God is not surprised, and He is working supernaturally 2. Culture demands conformity (Vv. 3-7) In these verses we see a four pronged approach as Nebuchadnezzar conforms the people of Israel to his will. - Isolation: Isolate the people. Take them from their homeland to my land. They're away from their family. They're away from their peers. They're away from their priests. They're away from the reading of their law, their Scriptures, the worship of their God. - Indoctrination: Make them forget everything they learned growing up and supplant with new ideas - Concession: Make this experience so amazing that they wouldn't want to go back. - Confusion: Give them new names. Take away the most personal, precious thing they have- their names, their identity. Change their identity. 3. Commitment begins with Conviction (Vv. 8-16) - Commitment begins inwardly. Daniel made a choice deep within himself. There was a fork in the road and he made a choice to be different, to not go along with the crowd, to "not defile himself." - What is defining you? - What are your convictions? - Where are you compromising? 4. God glorifies loyalty (Vv. 17-21) - 2 Chronicles 16:9, “For the eyes of the Lord roam throughout the earth to show himself strong for those who are wholeheartedly devoted to him.” - 3 Ways God honored loyalty: 1.) Reverence (v.9) - Daniel was moved into a position where he found favor, even among his captor. Proverbs 16, "When a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him." 2.) Prominence (v.20) - Top of the class. Valuable to the kingdom. 3.) Influence (v. 21) - Over a 70 year period Daniel had influence over four kings. Challenge: Will you be a thermometer, or are you going to be a thermostat? A thermometer just changes with the conditions around it. A thermostat influences change in the conditions around it. Daniel was a thermostat. Double Dare: In what areas do you experience the most pressure to conform to worldly standards? What will you do about it? "I double dare you to be different!" ~ Whit Lewis
DOUBLE DARE, Part 2
April 25, 2021 • Whit Lewis, Senior Pastor
The Double Dare series is geared to challenge us to "Live differently in these troubling times." In part 2 we will look at what it means to "Be Bold" in our faith. We have a tendency to trust people more readily than we are willing to trust the LORD. We live by faith in other people. In Daniel 2 we see three scenes: Scene 1: The King's Bedroom (v. 1) - Nebuchadnezzar is troubled by disturbing dreams. Scene 2: The King's Courtroom (Vv. 2-13) - Nebuchadnezzar calls in all of his magicians, mediums, sorcerers, and Chaldeans (influential Babylonian wise men) demanding they interpret his dreams. - His faith in all of his pantheon of deities is rattled because his seers can't interpret his dreams. - The fraud of the Chaldeans is revealed. They can't do what they're "supposed" to be there for. - This rallies the fervor of the captives (Daniel and his friends). The king's dreams, his disturbance, the failure of the seers to interpret the dreams, were all a setup so that God could use Daniel to show them: No, there are not many gods. No, it's not like you can pick your beliefs and all roads lead to God. Daniel is going to show them: There is only ONE GOD and that God - THE GOD - has revealed these things to Daniel and he is there to reveal them to King Nebuchadnezzar. Scene 3: Daniel's Prayer Room (Vv.14-23) - Daniel and his friends don't just sit back and observe. They actively get involved. - Daniel doesn't panic at the threat of death. - There is a stark contrast between the response of the king and the captives (Daniel and Co.). The king is sleepless, disturbed, concerned. The captives are serene, calm, and trusting in the Lord. - There's a great short poem by Elizabeth Chaney, called the Robin and Sparrow. “The Robin and the Sparrow" Said the robin to the sparrow, “I should really like to know, Why these anxious human beings Rush about and worry so.” Said the sparrow to the robin, “Friend I think that it must be, That they have no Heavenly Father, Such as cares for you and me.” - They put their faith on the line (v. 16) - Daniel activate his faith in God, because he had already abandoned his life to God. - They put their faith in the Lord (v. 17) Prayer is their first resort, not their last resort. Your prayer life is directly proportional to three things: 1. Your perception of prayer: James 5:16 says, "The fervent," that means red hot, "The fervent, effectual prayer of a righteous man avails much," or gets the job done. So your prayer life is directly proportional to your view, your perception of prayer. 2. Your perception of God (Vv. 21-22) Daniel and his friends prayers according to what they knew of God a. God is in total control b. He is interested in guiding people c. He is in tune with everything. 3. Your perception of the problem DOUBLE DARE: Be aware and take advantage of the daily opportunities to display your faith in the way you respond to people's questions, opinions, and difficulties. It will wake intentionality and it will take boldness. Here's the secret: When you bow before God, you can stand before men. Where is God calling you to BE BOLD? School, work, a relationship, a neighbor? Be sure that you're bowing before Him; that you're on your knees before Him. From the strength you gain on your knees, like Daniel and his buddies, you step up to the crisis and then step out in complete trust in God. The dare: Be bold. Put your faith on the line. Place your faith in the Lord. Step up and talk to men about God, and talk to God about men!
DOUBLE DARE, Part 3
May 2, 2021 • Whit Lewis, Senior Pastor
How should we as Christians seek to "live differently in these troubling times"? As citizens of the Kingdom of God we live in conflict as resident aliens in the kingdom of this world. We see an example of this conflict as we look at Daniel 3 and the choice made by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to openly disobey the order of King Nebuchadnezzar. It is a remarkable account of steadfast faith. Big Picture: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego decided it was better to stand up for God than to bow down to the wishes of the crowd. Their conviction was to refuse to be "conformed to this world" (Romans 12:2) Outline: 1. They Would Not Bow 2. They Would Not Bend "We are to walk by faith, not just talk by faith." 3. They Would Not Burn A. Punished (vs 19-23) B. Preserved (vs 24-27) C. Promoted (vs 28-30) What do we learn? - Standing up for God is always better than bowing down to man, but it's much harder - God is sovereign whether the outcome is triumph or tragedy - Suffering is a critical key to freedom DOUBLE DARE: Courageously Stand Up Even When the World Shouts to Sit Down
DOUBLE DARE, Part 4
May 9, 2021 • Whit Lewis, Senior Pastor
In His sovereignty, the Lord is able to humble those who walk in pride. In Daniel 4 we see 4 parts pertaining to how God deals with pride. 1. The Lord Reveals Pride a.) Nebuchadnezzar doesn't recognize that the Lord reigns b.) The only way he will come to really and truly learn that lesson is if he sees pride for what it is. The Lord exposes this to him in his dream. Unchecked pride, both in his life and in our lives, will always be a barrier to grasping God's greatness. "The very danger of pride is that when we are consumed by it, we are consumed with ourselves instead of God." ~C.S. Lewis "As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people. And of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you." ~C.S. Lewis 2. The Lord Rebukes Pride Daniel is up front with Nebuchadnezzar and tells him that he needs to see his sin and pride as and offense before the holy God. Pride puts us at the center of things and entices us into forming a god-like conception of ourselves. 3. The Lord Reduces Pride So many personal pronouns come to Nebuchadnezzar's lips; “I have built,” “My mighty power”, “My majesty”. Nebuchadnezzar is vocalizing the musings of his heart without any restraints and just like that, the Lord acts in the most gracious way that he could. He humbles Nebuchadnezzar. He learns the lesson that the Most High rules the kingdom of men. He needed to refocus his focus 4. The Lord Restores Those Who Repent of Pride When the Lord humbles us in our pride and we, by the grace of God, see the disgrace of our sin, our only hope for restoration and life with God is that we fix our eyes on repentance and faith on King Jesus. Worship is the inevitable fruit that follows repentance. DOUBLE DARE: "Be humble or stumble." ~Dwight L. Moody Questions to consider: 1. Where has pride gripped your heart? 2. Have you trusted in Christ alone? Want to talk with someone about your next step with Christ? We would love to connect with you. Please reach out to us at Contact@LHBC.me
DOUBLE DARE, Part 5 (conclusion)
May 16, 2021 • Whit Lewis, Senior Pastor
Daniel 6 In the midst of a hostile environment Daniel somehow managed to survive and thrive spiritually. Likewise, we as Christians live in a world of spiritual hostility where the temptation to compromise our faith is with us every day. The world doesn't want its conscience pricked and doesn't reward those who dare to stand up for what they believe. As we conclude this series in Daniel we can see here in God's Word how we can live for Him in a hostile environment. Two facts to remember: 1.) Daniel came to Babylon as a teenager and has grown to be an old man, over 80 years old, spanning the service of a whole series of various pagan rulers. 2.) Here we find Daniel serving under a new king named Darius who is ruling over a new kingdom, the Medo-Persian empire. The names have changed but the spiritual challenge is the same. Will he remain faithful when the pressure is on? Outline: 1. A Faulty Deception (Vv. 1-9) - Daniel was faithful in his duties - Daniel was faultless in his character - Daniel was fervent in his prayers "Doing right is no guarantee that everything will go right." 2. A Faithful Devotion (Vv. 10-17) The secret of Daniel's greatness can be seen in Daniel 6:10 "When Daniel learned that the document had been signed, he went into his house. The windows in its upstairs room opened toward Jerusalem, and three times a day he got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before." The greater miracle than Daniel surviving a night with the lions may be that he was able to continue to pray when his life was on the line. "Ever heard of the saying, 'Get the small stuff right and that will take care of the big stuff.'?" I believe the three boys in the fiery furnace had been daily living their faith. When threatened with death, they kept on keeping on. Dependence on God is practiced daily, so when the crisis comes, the reaction is almost a given." ~George Pollard Daniel's three "Did Nots:" - He did not try to escape the consequences of his decision to obey God. - He did not know what would happen. - He did not make a deal with God to save himself. "When Christ calls a man, he bends him come and die." ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer "If a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live." ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 3. A Fruitful Display (Vv. 19-28) "When all is said and done, it is better to be a child of faith in a lion's den than to be a king without God in a palace." 5 Lessons for Modern-Day Daniels: - It is possible to live a Godly life within a troubling pagan world - Faithful Christians should expect opposition - God can use you to reach the unlikeliest when we are faithful to him - God is able to deliver his people from any danger they face - God always delivers in his own time and in his own way DOUBLE DARE: Even though it will cost you, faithfully walk the path God set before you.