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Summary: Asks the question, "Who's in charge?" Who is in charge of America, who is in charge of your life?

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Battle between God’s Kingdom and Man’s Kingdom

4/16/2010

Daniel 1

Last week we introduced the topic for the next few weeks. I got a lot a positive feedback from that sermon, and I want you to know I appreciate your comments.

Just a little more introduction and we’ll get into the book of Daniel in the Old Testament.

Firstly, it might be good to go clear back to the very fundamentals of Bible study. As people who respect the authority of God’s Word, we believe that if the Bible says it, we have to adjust our thinking to accommodate the Bible, not adjust the Bible to accommodate our thinking. My wife loves HGTV. (It drives me nuts, but she doesn’t watch football with me either.) But once in a while I will sit down with her and watch it. The other night there was a show about the HGTV “good guy” construction expert going into a home that was left supposedly 95% complete when a disagreement between the owners and the old construction company gave way to a legal dispute, so the “good guy” construction expert came on the scene to complete the work. What he found was atrocious – the electrical system was not up to code, the plumbing had errors in it that required the sheetrock to be pulled off so it could be accessed, the bathtub had to be removed, it was a serious mess. And all the owners could do was stand there white faced, checkbook in hand, fuming over the loss of their entire life savings which they had put into the addition to their house. But it couldn’t be helped; it all had to be re-done.

Jesus told a story about a man who built his house upon the sand, and when the winds came the house was blown away. I remember singing that song in VBS as a child. But when I grew up a little and realized that he was talking about building a life, it only made sense to me to be like the guy who built his house on the Rock, even though there was so very much in my life that I had mis-laid and that had to be torn down in order to be rebuilt on Jesus. It’s a painful and expensive process, which is why we are encouraged to count the cost, but it is the only way out of the struggles of life into God’s salvation. Once a building has been constructed, it is seriously difficult to repair an error in the way the foundation is laid, but the Christian is committed to doing just that if that is what the Spirit asks him to do. To do less than that is to reject God’s authority over our own lives, and that is a really dangerous place to be.

And so we study the Bible every Sunday, and I hope you also study every day. The idea is to back up where necessary and rebuild, but also to keep from making the same construction mistakes in the future. So we study to learn how to lay our foundation solid and secure on the Rock of Jesus Christ.

Secondly, we need to keep in mind that the Bible’s focus is on the redemption of man. Whatever kind of material we run across in the Bible, we also must be sure to understand it in terms of the focus of all Scripture. Now I am not going to target this series of sermons on prophecy, but it is in there, and so as we brush by it we will deal with prophecy in exactly the same manner that we deal with all Scripture – letting the Bible speak for itself, and letting Scripture interpret Scripture, and understanding the more complex and obscure passages in light of related simpler and easier passages.

The primary theme of the Bible is the redemption of man. Even the stories that seem to have no bearing on this primary topic, when they are seen in light of the rest of Scripture can be seen to be just small parts of this idea, just trees in the forest. It doesn’t describe all the details of everything that happens in human life. It only focuses on what God is doing in His continual quest to redeem man. Now while that is true, from the other side of the coin it can be seen that when the Bible does reveal some detail, it would be good to pay attention carefully, because it is there for a reason. The details are relevant. And when all the details are understood, we will see that they all point to Jesus Christ.

And that is the only direction, the only thing that counts in human life. Without that, there is nothing. We are all loved by God, Who wants to bring us into His Kingdom and bless us and make sense out of our lives. Now the “Kingdom” I am talking about is a kingdom built not with our physical hands, but with our minds. We choose how we want to order and prioritize our lives, and our values, that is, what we consider important, is what we will consider as of first importance. Then we begin building our character. But if we don’t consider what God thinks is important, if we reject His values, our house will be built way off kilter. Then things won’t work right, the roof will leak, the lights won’t light, the plumbing won’t plumb, and the electric won’t elect. We can choose to continue on that same path, to keep on getting what we’ve been getting, and it won’t be what Jesus calls “the Abundant life,” or we can choose to tear things down and rebuild according to code. The two kingdoms can be thought of as the two competing forces, one that demands we continue on the path to building a house that will be destroyed when the first good gale hits it, or one that will give us power and honor and result in a leak-proof life; a house that has a foundation that will not crumble when the storms of life crash in on it.

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