Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Time to Commit


In concern for our nation tonight, allow me to tell you the story of a young man named Daniel.

About 606BC, Daniel was carried away as a captive from Jerusalem to Babylon by order of King Nebuchadnezzar. If one were to read the accounts immediately surrounding this event, they would be led to imagine that the reason this happened to Daniel was because the King of Judah, King Jehoiakim, had just rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. However, the story is more detailed and much longer than this one event.

God’s unfolding plan is always more detailed and much longer in coming to pass than any one generation can fathom.

The story of Daniel did not begin with Jehoiakim’s rebellion … Let me tell you where the story of Daniel really begins.

In Daniel’s case, both his burden and his blessing began long, long before he was born … at least 95 years earlier than his birth. It began with a prophecy given by Isaiah.

I know, it’s a long story … but God likes long stories – because:

What is happening now is seldom the result of what we see going on around us.

Isaiah’s prophecy to King Hezekiah, 95 years earlier, 702 BC –

Isaiah 39:7  ’And they, (the Babylonians), shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’"

It’s interesting to note that Hezekiah showed little concern with this prophecy and felt it was going to be ok because he realized something:

Isaiah 39:8  So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good!" For he said, "At least there will be peace and truth in my days."

Hezekiah was only focused on one thing – himself.

This was not the first time Hezekiah had demonstrated his propensity for selfishness. He was not a bad guy in fact Hezekiah was a good guy … a very good guy. He loved God and served the people but, when it came to personal hardship … he was a sissy. As long as hardship didn’t happen to him, he was ok – without regard as to whom the trouble would visit. Even though Isaiah informed him that this trouble was to come upon his children and grandchildren, Hezekiah seemed not to be too bothered.

“Good”, he said … “at least there will be peace in my days” …

The Bible says: The sins of the fathers may visit the children to the third and fourth generation, but righteousness will endure to a thousand generations. (Exodus 34:7; Deuteronomy 7:9)

From 2 Kings 20 to 2 Kings 24, there were kings,  two good kings and 4 bad kings … but the plan of God just kept unfolding. There was: Hezekiah; Manasseh; Amon; Josiah; Jehoahaz; and Jehoiakim. Over 100 years of life, some good and blessed, some bad and cursed. Nonetheless, God was working His plan and everyone was given their chance to participate …

The fact that people kept messing up on God was not God’s fault and it made God upset. But, He had been upset with Judah for some time …

2 Kings 21:15  ’because they have done evil in My sight, and have provoked Me to anger since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day.’

Even in this unfolding plan of God to bring judgment in hopes of correcting His children; even in the midst of these terrible hardships and later the total destruction of Jerusalem, burning of Solomon’s temple and the enslavement and slaughter of so many Jews … even in the midst of all of that, Daniel still had a choice … what was he going to do with his life … although enslaved … he still had a chance to shine because of his faith and his commitment to God. Commitment is always choice … Captivity may not be, but commitment always is …

Daniel was himself only perhaps 12 to 15 years old when he was taken captive and burdened to serve the King of Babylon. For 3 years he underwent stringent education in the arts and the ways of his captors before hearing one day that he and all of the wise men and counselors in Babylon were set to be put to death because none could interpret the dream of the King, which btw, the King refused to disclose.

Gaining audience with the King, Daniel told both the dream and the interpretation thereof. Daniel was aptly rewarded with a promotion and given great wealth, honor and position in the Empire.

Sometime later Daniel was summoned by the queen mother in regards to strange handwriting which had mysteriously appeared on the wall. Again Daniel correctly interpreted this message and was again promoted, this time to the position of third ruler of the empire.

Although not everyone liked Daniel and even some laid plot to have him discredited, discarded and even executed, God’s favor continued on Daniel’s wisdom and brought him deliverance and respect as he served three succeeding rulers of the empire, survived an empire change. Ultimately Daniel lived to see the return of the Children of Israel back to Jerusalem – (A fulfillment of prophecy of which Daniel played no little part. But that’s another long story we will save for later …)

From the first dream Daniel interpreted, at perhaps 15 years of age, to the angelic visitation in his mid-life, and all the way to being thrown into a lion’s den in his 80’s, Daniel refused to compromise … he was a man of conviction. Daniel did not cause these troubles to come upon his nation but he did play his part in gaining God’s forgiveness and regaining God’s grace.

Daniel was a young man born for such a time as he lived, as are all young men and young women, even today … What made Daniel so special?

Daniel 1: 8  But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

Today our nation sits in a difficult place. We must not imagine that our present leaders are responsible for all of the troubles we now see. For If we believe our troubles are all the result of our current or recent President or Congress, we might be deceived into believing that our next President or Congress can fix it … I assure you, they cannot!

The problem with our nation is a long story reaching far back into our history. As with many individuals, families and nations before us, we too have fallen prey to false idols and selfish pursuits. As a people we have long catered to the present comforts of each generation and forsaken the harsh realities that every selfish action has it’s rippling effect on others around us and generations to come. Life should be more than our moment.

In America we sit in a country divided, more than 16 trillion dollars in debt – (this means that Americans would have to come up with 16 trillion dollars to pay other countries and lenders just to be able to rightfully claim that we were flat broke) – This land of the free and home of the brave with liberty and justice for all has slipped far off the course once set by our forefathers … a foundation and course which cannot be denied.

Almost half of all Americans now receive some financial assistance from the government while another half pay absolutely nothing in taxes thereby making no contribution to the equation. Our current leaders are printing money on worthless paper, issuing bonds which cannot be serviced, allowing foreign entities to gobble up American interest and the UN to occupy and lay claim to American soil, all the while paying farmers to not plant wheat, but ordering them to sell corn to make $5 a gallon gasoline, using taxpayer dollars to bail out commercial enterprises, making the appointment of czars over the people and industries of America, driving doctors out of profitable practice, allowing the degradation of the sanctity of marriage and family, appeasing and apologizing to our sworn enemies as though we are to blame for the hatred they hold for all life, lying, cheating, extorting, cursing, defaming, brain washing and addicting the poor and innocent of our nation while thumbing their noses at God who has been legislated out of our classrooms and commerce and soon to be banned from every public place and even uninvited witness in our homes.

This is what the current leadership of America is doing … but believe me, it did not start with them … they are but carrying on a tradition which has pervaded America ever since we turned our hearts from solely serving Him. Through the past century we too, like Judah in their time, have had good leaders and bad leaders … some have been a blessing and some a curse.

Nonetheless our nation has slipped into a progressive disconnection concerning God and His will for our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor. Even in this condition, there is still hope.

We cannot sit idly by and only hope that the tragedy we know is coming will not come in our lives without regard as to what our children and grandchildren will face in their generations. Only time will tell if we are those in this day who will be like Daniel and take a different course.

While both the world and some in the church are burdened and led by those seeking fortune, fame, and the personal comforts of this world, yet there is a remnant who’s hearts have purposed to not defile themselves with those things this world has to offer.

Tonight I challenge you to stand up for Jesus and stand up for America and make a commitment … let us proclaim the words of Joshua, the new leader of the great nation of Israel during one of its most critical times.

Without regard as to what anyone else does …

Joshua 24:15 … As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!

Stand with me as we make our commitment as a Church Family and as you make your individual commitment to God for yourself and your immediate family … “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” – There will be no further progressive disconnection from God on my watch …