Summary: This is the second in a 3 part series that ivestigates what faith looks like when it has integrity. This sermon explores the ideas of making Godly decisions in life.
Pt 2 - Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
Today I want to continue to share with you about this idea of faith integrity. Last week we began with Jesus call to His disciples to be salt and light. The integration of belief and behavior is the key to living our faith with integrity in the world around us.
I want you to remember the fundamental principle of these messages: You can never live above the level of your integrity. Your influence in the world around you, your impact on your children and grandchildren, your ability to stand in the midst of difficulty, and even your relative joy in life are all dependent on the level of your faith integrity. How well are you integrating the reality of Christ into daily living.
I want you to know today that it is no accident that some people excel at living in the darkness of this world and other struggle just to survive. There are reasons why we succeed and reasons why we fail. Those reasons are wrapped up in one decisive element of life - DECISION MAKING!
Life is truly a collage of the decisions that we make. The picture of our lives can be beautiful but it never ceases to amaze me how dark and broken that picture can get.
The level of our Faith Integrity is directly connected with the choices that we make in life. I want you to know today that I am a firm believer in the need to own our lives. I have said this before from the pulpit but I think it’s one of the most empowering concepts I know. Owning life means taking responsibility for your life. It means waking up and realizing “I am where I am because of the choices I have made.” It also means that “if I want my life to change I have to start making better choices!” So how do we make better choices - for that I would turn your attentions to the life of a man named Daniel.
1) Daniel chose to live above his circumstances - If you take a close look at the beginning of Daniels life you will find that his position in life defies the difficulty of it’s beginning. As a young boy in Jerusalem Daniel had a great beginning - of noble lineage he was educated and privileged. But while he was still a boy Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem. He took whatever they wanted and left Jerusalem to be a tributary of Babylon. It was at this time that Daniel was taken captive into Babylon where he would spend the rest of his life. In other words Daniel was a slave a hostage. Now imagine being taken from a noble household and becoming a slave. Like Jacob’s son Joseph - Daniel had every reason to grow up a bitter, troubled, broken man. But I think that it’s interesting that from day one Daniels character shows up. He chooses not to eat the king’s food - choosing not to defile himself with foods that were unclean. From that moment on Daniel begins to rise to the top - and by the time he is an adult he is far more than a slave - he has become one of the 4 most powerful men of his time. Look what I am trying to say is that Daniel could have used his circumstances as an excuse for failure but instead he rose above his circumstances and became what God intended him to be. Too many people today use their past as an excuse for their present. Past problems, parents, experiences, and even bad decisions become a continuing excuse for failure. Look I know that some people seem to have an easier path in life than others - but the truth is that no life is easy in this world. I want people to understand that you can become whatever God made you to be not because of your circumstances but despite them. Your choices make you who you are. Choose to be better, live better, and create a better future than your past.
2) Daniel chose to live above the level of his culture - Daniel lived in a culture that was dark and broken much like ours. He rose to power despite his refusal to fit in with the Babylonian culture. He remained faithful to God despite the temptations of the world around him. I think it’s a wonderful testament to this mans integrity that when his enemies gathered together against him the only thing they could accuse him of was praying to God. It is an amazing life that is lived that has no skeletons in the closet - no hidden secrets to be rooted out - no broken moments that can be drug into the light. Can you say that about your life. I think election years are interesting and terrible because you find out just how deep people can dig to find dirt on someone. Well that happened to Daniel - but they couldn’t find any. Often today we try to be Christians while blending in with our culture (a kind of camouflage Christianity) - somehow we have convinced ourselves that Christianity is about fitting in instead of standing out. Jesus says “you are the light of the world - a light set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Paul in II Corinthians says “Come out from their midst and be separate…”. I was a teenager when I smoked my first cigarette - It was awful - so why did I smoke it? Because it was more important to me that I fit in with the people around me than it was to do what I knew was right for me. Today there are a thousand choices that we can make to fit in with the people around us or we can choose to live with the Integrity of our faith.