Summary: How do we seek to build unity and stop divisiveness?
A decade ago I was working part-time at an apartment complex where Susan and I lived while I was completing a degree at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.
It was an interesting job and I worked with, and for, some interesting people.
In May of 1992 things came to a head at this place. I had worked there for 3 years and I had seniority. I had 3 different supervisors and worked with maybe 30 different people in that period of time.
On the Friday prior to Memorial Day I was told that the property was being sold to new owners, that a new management company was coming in to manage the place, and that we most likely would not have jobs by the end of next week.
Well the following Wednesday, we were done. And I can still recall the shock of losing my job. I had never had this happen to me before.
Well that night, I sat at home and thought, "God, its in your hands now."
Can you recall a time when you had "the rug pulled out from underneath you?" It left you breathless didn’t it? We wonder what in the world happened? And why is this happening to me?
A lot of people, including some of you, I’m sure, can related to this story.
But, sometimes the rug is pulled out for personal reasons. You’re set up and then taken for a ride that leaves you on the floor taking stock of your condition and asking, "Why? Why me? What caused this to happen?"
This morning we are going to look at a second way Satan tries to pull the rug out from underneath us - individually and congregationally.
This second way is by causing us to be divisive not unifying. Now by being divisive, I don’t mean having an honest difference of opinion. That is to be expected. I expect us to have different perspective on issues. In fact, we sometimes, in some areas, need them.
By divisive I mean being have a certain spirit or attitude that is bent on keeping things stirred up for the wrong reasons. And somewhere behind those wrong reasons, I will wager you, is jealousy.
The story is told of a great English preacher, FB Meyer, and his struggle with jealousy when another great English preacher, G. Campbell Morgan, returned to England after being in America.
Meyer said to some friends, "It was easy to pray for the success of Morgan when he was in America. But when he came to England and to a church near mine, it was something different. The old Adam in me was inclined to jealousy, but I got my heel upon his head, and whether I felt right toward my friend, I determined to act right.
There is a story in scripture that really illustrates the effects of jealousy on a person’s life and that is the story of Daniel.
This morning our scripture passage is Daniel chapter 6 and I am going to read the entire chapter and, as I do so, please take the thoughts and reflections portion of your bulletin and be ready to privately answer those 6 questions that appear on it.
(READ THE PASSAGE)
Now, take a minute and respond to the questions. . . .
Before we look more closely at this passage, we need to know that Daniel had been in governmental service for quite sometime.
He was one of four young men when, as we read in chapter 1, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and conquered it as well as all of Judah.
Even then Daniel refused to become a part of the Babylonian culture and choose to eat food that was not defiled as he had been taught as a boy. Daniel served Nebuchadnezzar well as described in chapters 2-4.
Then during the reign of the next king. Belshazzar, Daniel again was called upon to help interpret his dreams.
Well, Belshazzar was killed and a new ruler King Darius of Persia became the new ruler of Babylon. And this is where we pick up the story in chapter 6.
Daniel had been around for a while and once again, God was with Daniel and he proved his ability in leadership with the new king. But, there was a problem . . .
We read in verse 3 - 4 that "Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other administrators and princes. Because of his great ability, the king made plans to place him [Daniel] over the entire empire. Then the other administrators and princes began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling his affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize. He was faithful and honest and always responsible."
When I was younger I always felt that the book of Daniel was a heavy and dark book of the Bible. I believed that it was heavy and dark because there was something dark and sinister at work in the days of Daniel.