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Message Monday: Disciplines of Devotion – Discipline 3: Humble Witness

Originally Preached 07/02/17

Intro:

  • The ink was still drying on the Declaration of Independence as General Washington and the Continental Army entered into battle with the British in August of 1776.
  • The British had developed a superior battle plan trapping Washington and all of the 8000 Continental troops on Brooklyn Height, New York. Should they have pressed the battle into the evening the War would have been over.
  • With confidence and pride General Howe ordered a halt until the morning. After all the rebel army was trapped so that the British Navy would intercept them by sea and the British army would intercept them by land.
  • It was then that a near supernatural fog descended onto the Heights and the East River. So thick was the fog that through the night Washington was able to ferry the entire army across the river and to escape that they might fight another day.
  • Had it not been for that critically timed fog, the Battle of New York would have ended the revolution and today we would sing “God Save the Queen” rather than “God Bless America”

Hook:

  • I mention that miracle of the Revolution not to say that God chose sides in the Revolution, but to point out how even in our own Revolution there were those who sought and recognized God’s providential help in their personal lives.
  • For Washington this event, along with the numerous times that he would ride out of battle, inspect his cloak and discover bullet holes, as well as other critical events in the revolution cemented in his mind that the Hand of Providence which guided his steps.
  • Listen to these words from his first Inaugural Address, “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency… We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.”
  • Not all of us can be a Washington or a Daniel, but all of us can display the humility and bold witness of these men.
  • My goal with today’s message is to show you how to be that kind of witness in a three simple points.

Message Points:

  • So let’s turn our attention to Daniel’s story and draw from it the three principles that will allow us to have a humble witness.
  • Remember that Daniel already has already displayed a resolute faith and the willingness to offer practical prayers to God about his immediate needs.
  • Before anyone might accuse Daniel of seeking his own advancement, notice the stark contrast between Daniel and Arioch.
    • Daniel goes to the king with these words in verse 24, “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon… I will show the king the interpretation”.
    • Arioch goes into the king in verse 25 claiming that he found among the exiles from Judah one who knew the interpretation.
    • Daniel went with humility to rescue others while Arioch went with pride to propel himself.
  • But also notice that when the kings asks Daniel if he can tell the dream and interpretation Daniel is not afraid to declare the truth to the kings.
    • In verse 27-28 as well as verse 30 Daniel tells the king that the dream and its interpretation is not accessible through human power and wisdom.
    • Verse 28 especially points this out to the king when Daniel boldly witnesses by saying,
      • “But there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries and has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days.”
  • This reveals our 1ST point: A believer is humble about his abilities but bold to witness about God’s ability. (2:24-30)
    • Can I ask you a question believer?
      • When you pay your bills each month and put food on your table, do you credit yourself as the provider of these things?
      • Consider at the degrees on your wall or the achievements hanging in your office. Who receives the credit for these things?
      • Even think about your family and friends in this church, do you somehow take credit for having children or friends that follow Christ?
      • Be careful believer! The Bible tells us that pride comes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18)
      • Further Jesus repeatedly warned rich believers because their pride kept them from being humble. Listen to these words as he explained the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:22 “As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and deceitfulness of riches choke the word and it proves unfruitful.”
      • All of us have abilities that we do better than others. Even as a pastor it is extremely difficult not to think that the power of my preaching comes from my cleverness of my words.
      • Remember Daniel’s words in 2:30 when you are tempted to credit yourself, “This mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living, but in order that the interpretation may be known.”
      • Believers we have a mystery revealed to us in Christ, not because we are better than anyone else, but because he wants us to make know His saving grace.
      • One of the best ways that you can combat the pride-seeking temptation to take credit is to boldly witness about God’s unique ability to save.
      • Believer, would you be willing to make a commitment this morning to combat pride in your life by being a humble witness?
        • Commit to pray for opportunities to have a Gospel Conversation.
        • A gospel conversation is simply a chance to share how Christ makes the difference in your life. So…
          • Pray that someone would compliment you.
          • Pray that you could start a conversation in the elevator or in the check out line.
          • Pray that you would be able to visit with your neighbors and family.
        • Then at the right moment boldly tell them that you are who you are because Jesus saved you.
        • Especially for those of you going on Mfuge pray even now that as you serve in different areas this week that someone would ask you about why you came to Kentucky. Then share that it is because Jesus loved us enough to leave Heaven and come to Earth.
  • The largest part of this passage is the middle section. While we could go into detail trying to understand every angle of this this prophecy, we must be careful not to distract from the purpose of this prophecy.
  • Nebuchadnezzar had conquered every kingdom that anyone knew of in the world. He thought that he had near absolute power.
  • The word used in verse 31 about the “image” is not the normal word for an idol. Rather it is the image or carving of a person or a statue. Thus the statue may have had feature that Nebuchadnezzar recognized as his own features.
  • The statue was divided into sections, more precious to least precious. With each section Daniel gave an explanation.
    • It began at its head with gold. This is Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom.
    • Then its chest was silver. This is the kingdom after the current kingdom. Presumably this is the Medes and the Persians.
    • Its thighs were bronze. This is yet another kingdom. Presumably this is Alexander’s Greek Empire and its remnants.
    • Finally its legs and feet were iron mixed with clay. This is the last major kingdom or empire. Presumably this is Rome, strong yet brittle.
  • But let us focus on a few key verses. Look with me at verse 2:37-38 and 44-45.
    • Notice that Daniel uses the kings title as king of kings and yet God in heaven is the one who gave him his power and rule over the sons of men.
    • Now remember the head, chest, thighs, legs and feet all fell when struck by the great stone that filled the earth. God is making sure the king knows that no matter how great he is, he will fall and fail. When he does God will still be on the throne.
    • Especially notice the correlation between God setting up a kingdom that will never fail and the stone that breaks the other kingdoms of the earth.
    • The coming kingdom will never be destroyed and the kingdom will not pass from person to person. In other words it will be an eternal kingdom.
  • In this dream and its interpretation I believe that God was revealing through Daniel the need for Nebuchadnezzar and all of us to humble ourselves as we witness the greatness God.
  • That is our 2ND point: When we witness the greatness of God, all of us should humble ourselves (2:30-45).
    • Friends this is the gospel in a nutshell. Think about the five key points that make up the gospel.
      • God Created – All that we see testifies to the greatness of God. He gave humanity everything, even one simple rule.
      • Humanity Rebels – At the fall humanity rebelled against God’s one rule. In pride we all think that we control our own destiny like Nebuchadnezzar. Even so, we control our own destiny like a fugitive surrounded on all sides by the police. God is infinite, so the penalty for sin is infinite. No mere man can pay that penalty.
      • Christ Offers Redemption – God in his greatness created a plan of salvation that allows as many as would trust in Christ’s payment for sin to be saved. Since Christ is infinite, he alone could make an infinite payment for sin.
      • Humanity Responds – People can humble themselves, repent and trust Christ for salvation and the future or they can continue in their rebellion.
      • God Judges – Eventually God will come and judge every rebel for their crimes against his rule. Only those who humbled themselves and trusted Christ’s payment will be saved.
    • That is why I say that trying to understand every angle of this prophecy can obscure its meaning.
      • This dream of Nebuchadnezzar is a dream specifically speaking to his situation as king over the first great empire.
      • That said, the dream of Nebuchadnezzar reminds all of us that our labors and life’s work will not give us greater consideration on judgment day.
      • Even the scope of our lives teaches this truth. We do not go from lesser strength and power to greater strength and power forever. We will eventually begin to grow fragile.
      • Only humbling ourselves and trusting Christ’s payment will save us.
    • Friends if you are here today and have not humbled yourself and trusted Christ as your Savior, you do not have to leave here today troubled by the greatness of God over against the fragility of your life.
    • All you must do is humbly come, confess your sin, and trust Christ as Savior and Lord.
      • As I finish the message consider making that humble decision.
      • If you desire to make that kind of decision come and talk with me during the invitation or after the service today.
  • Finally then today, notice that Daniel did not pressure or force the king’s respond. Look with me at verses 2:46-49
    • The king on his own bowed to Daniel.
    • He praised Daniel’s God as the God of gods, Lord of kings, and revealer of mysteries.
    • Then the king promoted Daniel over the wise men of Babylon.
    • He also granted Daniel’s request to promote his friends.
  • While all of these moves were good for Daniel and his friends, in the end they did not show the kind of devotion that allows us to say that Nebuchadnezzar truly humbled himself before God.
    • As commentator Joyce Baldwin says, “Nebuchadnezzar’s intention may well have been to honor Daniel’s God by honoring his servant.”
    • Further Baldwin says, “As a polytheist [Nebuchadnezzar] can always add another to the deities he worships.”
    • We can see this in the way that the king says that Daniel’s God is the God of gods. He adds to his pantheon rather than single out worship of the true and living God.
  • Why is this important?
    • It was Daniel’s job as it is ours to be that humble witness.
    • It is not our job to force or pressure someone to convert.
  • That is our 3RD point: A witness shows humility when he or she trusts the Holy Spirit to convert someone (2:46-49).
    • Conversion is not in the cleverness of words, so do not think you cannot witness if you do not think you have the right answers.
    • Conversion is not built upon the power or persuasiveness of people, so do not think you cannot witness if you are shy, quiet, or plain-spoken.
    • Conversion is not even in the perfection of our character, so do not think you cannot witness if you do not have a perfect life.
    • CONVERSION IS GOD’S DOING! He thought of it. Jesus died for it. The Holy Spirit convinces us of it. We show our humility when we simply say, I am different today because of God’s work in me.

Conclusion:

  • Are we a people as Washington said, “bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men.”
  • Do you know a great God?
    • Have you told someone about Him?
  • Have you experienced Christ’s saving power in your life?
    • Do others know about it?
  • Is the Holy Spirit working in your life right now, urging you to trust Christ and follow him?
    • Will you respond to that urging today?
  • You show that you are a humble witness today when you acknowledge and tell others that you trust a great and mighty God, Jesus Christ.

 

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Posted by on July 31, 2017 in Ministry of the Word

 

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