Sun, 13 September 2015
Would everyone please draw a deep breath, just do like this. All right I see that all of you have breath. Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord. I'd tell wasn’t that wonderful, what the choir and orchestra did. It was tremendous. The song said, "Let all the works of his hand be applauded" and we applaud the Lord. He gives gifts to people and I'm so glad they share their gifts with us. It’s a dream come true for me to serve in the church were people are so gifted musically and they let those gifts be used for the glory of God! Thank you choir and orchestra and all were involved in the service thus far, it’s been tremendous.
Would you take your Bible, please, and open to the book of Daniel. We are in a study through the book of Daniel. Really what were doing is, were really studying chapters one through six. This series, is in a lot of ways, was designed to help our students as they go back into the school system, especially the college and university system. We want to help them dare to be a Daniel and so that was a lot of the idea that went behind us scheduling this series at this time. Today we come to chapter two. Daniel chapter two. You said before, nothing lasts forever. There’s a lot of truth in that statement. For example, I want you to think with me of sports dynasties. Nothing lasts forever. Dynasties rise and they fall. Back in the 60's, the dominant team in the NBA was the Boston Celtics. Some of you are old enough to remember the Celtics in those days. They won eleven NBA championships in 13 years. That team have on it, great players like Bill Russell and Bob Cousy, John Havelechek. In fact they won eight straight NBA championships during the 60's. And so someone may have thought, "well, the Celtics, they'll just forever, be the dominant team in the NBA but, that’s not so is it. Along came the 80's, well the late 70's and 80's and it was ShowTime. These were the Los Angeles Lakers. This was kind of when I was coming up as a teenager and young man in college, that era. That team was made up of Magic Johnson, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and great players like that. Kurt Rambis with the glasses, if you remember him and they were coached by Pat Riley. They were dominant in their day, in fact they went eight finals during that span of time and they won five NBA championships. Perhaps people thought the Lakers! The Lakers will always be on top but it isn’t so because dynasties rise and they fall. It was the Celtics in the 60's, the Lakers in the 80's, then came the 90's and who was the dominant team during the 1990's? The Chicago Bulls! They had on it, the greatest of all time, pound for pound, inch for inch, Michael Jordan and his sidekick Scottie Pippen. And that crazy man, Dennis Rodman. If you remember Dennis Rodman. crazy! the Bulls won six NBA championships. I can still picture in my mind, Michael Jordan, gesturing six championships! had he not had this crazy idea to try to go play professional baseball, they probably would have one more championships and so the Bulls were the dominant team. Somebody may have said, well the Bulls, theyll always be the dynasty. but, it isn't so is it. sports dynasties rise and fal,l but it's not just true in sports. it's true in business. businesses rise and businesses fall. monopolies and dynasties in the economic realm, rise and fall. in fact there was a study done of all the Fortune 500 companies, in the year 1955. how many of them still existed in 2014?
You know that 89%, thats nearly 90% of those Fortune 500 companies are no longer in the list because businesses rise and fall. In fact, let me just mention a litany of companies. Blockbuster. Blockbuster was all the rage and there was a blockbuster on every corner and every strip shopping mall. but today, blockbusters s ,I believe, is bankrupt. they've gone through bankruptcy, because though they made the transition from VHS, the VCR's, to DVD, they didn't keep up and Netflix came in and Netflix would just send you a movie right over the Internet to your home or you could go down to the local store in for a dollar you could read out of the red box, I think it's called. and Blockbuster is no more. sears. how many used to go shopping at Sears? I remember as a little boy going into a multi-storied Sears building in Memphis, Tennessee. it was a big trip for us. we would travel from our little home town of Forrest City. we would drive over to Memphis, get some burgers at Krystal and go up into the tower at Sears in Memphis. we thought was big stuff. But who goes to Sears nowadays? Walmart. Amazon.com. in fact, what store do you go to at all? you just order it over Amazon and it is dropped right on your front doorstep. Sears has not been able to keep up. In fact, poor Sears they have paired up with Kmart. many forecasters say they'll not survive next year. what happens? businesss come and go just as sports dynasties do. Kodak, Kodak was the dominant photography company for 100 years. and somebody said well Kodak will always dominate the photography business. but you know what? they were so tied to film, that when digiital photography came out, they were left in the dustbin. They couldn’t compete. And their fortunes rose and fell.
Well, what's true in sports and what's true in business is also true in the political sphere. empires rise and empires fall. Theres a long litany of kings and would-be dictators that have arisen and fallen. Ramses, Alexander, Caesar Augustus, Charlemagne, Genghis Khan, Hitler, Mussolini, Mau Se Tong, Stalin, ISIS. All of them rising, one day, to fall. But I come here to tell you something. There is a kingdom that will never fall. There is a dynasty rising that will never be diminished. And it is the kingdom of our Lord and Christ, Jesus himself. And of that kingdom, Daniel speaks. Would you stand your feet and honor of God's word and we'll see what God's word says about this kingdom? Now, I’m going to have mercy on you. I’m not going to read all 49 versus all right. Going to read the first twelve and this will be our Launchpad for the rest of the story. Give your best attention to what happens in verses 1 to 12, because this will set the stage. Daniel chapter 2 beginning in verse one God's word says,
In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his spirit was troubled, and his sleep left him. Then the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. And the king said to them, “I had a dream, and my spirit is troubled to know the dream.” Then the Chaldeans said to the king in Aramaic,“O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.” The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, “The word from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins. But if you show the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. Therefore show me the dream and its interpretation.” They answered a second time and said, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show its interpretation.” The king answered and said, “I know with certainty that you are trying to gain time, because you see that the word from me is firm—if you do not make the dream known to me, there is but one sentence for you. You have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the times change. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can show me its interpretation.” The Chaldeans answered the king and said, “There is not a man on earth who can meet the king's demand, for no great and powerful king has asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean. The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.” Because of this the king was angry and very furious, and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed.
Lets pray. Lord we have breath this morning and because we do, we praise you Lord. We see around us the ruins of dynasties and kingdoms and businesses that are risen only to fall. God we believe your word that says there is a kingdom rising there is a dynasty rising that will never fall. it is the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, the Lord Jesus. We thank you for your kingdom. We thank you for the King. I pray this morning he will be lifted high and all of us would make sure that we are among his subjects and have pledged allegiance to the Lamb. We ask it in his name. Amen. Please be seated.
Our story this morning begins with desperation. There is absolute desperation before God. You know why don't you? Let me give you the reasons for desperation that the magicians, the enchanters and Daniel himself must've felt. The reason port was because the king is being unreasonable. They’re in a predicament to be sure. The king said I had a dream. It must have been a terrible dream. It must be a frightening dream and the King wants to know the meaning of it. And so, he orders that they tell him his dream. They say well that’s fine King, will tell you the dream as long as you tell us. We will tell you the meaning of your dream as long as you tell us what you dreamed. And the king says Oh No. In effect he says I've been suspicious about you boys all along. If I tell you the dream you could just concoct some explanation of it and I have no means of knowing whether your purported interpretation is true or false. I’m going to put out before you a fleece, in effect, and I ordered this, you tell me, without me disclosing it to you, what I dream. And if you can tell me what I drink first then I'll believe the interpretation that you purport to give. Well the people realize, these magicians, these wise men, they realized that their goose is cooked because they are powerless for this predicament. They have no means with in themselves to come up with it. And they protest. They say only the gods know what transpires in the night and in the dark. Only they can tell the dream that you have. So there are reasons for them being desperate. But the more important thing is, what is their response to this desperation? And maybe you've come here today and there's some desperation in your life. Maybe you're facing some crisis of some sort. Perhaps it's a relational crisis sorts, or it’s a financial crisis, or it's an emotional crisis. The important thing is not the reasons for your desperation. The important thing is your response in your desperation. How will you respond? And I love the way Daniel responded in this desperate moment. He responded, first of all, by being very prudent. The Bible says in verse 14 when the executioner came to Daniel, this is verse 14, Daniel replied with prudence and discretion to Arioch. Daniel gave a soft answer. The Bible says in Proverbs 15:1 a soft answer turns away wrath.
I heard a story about a Red Sox baseball player. His name was Wade Boggs. A lot of you will remember Wade Boggs. I believe he was the third baseman for the Red Sox. And of course you know the archrivals to the Red Sox are the Yankees. Every time the Red Sox would go to play in Yankee Stadium, there would be this heckler over on the third-base line and he would incessantly criticize and belittle Wade Boggs. He was always on his case. And he would say "man you stink." "Man your no good." and he just be giving him a hard time. Later Boggs had finally had enough. And so when the man started criticizing Boggs just walked over to him and he said, "Are you the man that's always running me down, you the man that it is always criticizing me?" and the Yankee fan said that's right, its me." what you can do about? Wade Boggs pulled out a brand-new baseball and he autographed it and tossed it up to the man.
And it is said that from that time on, that man became the biggest Yankee fan of Boston Red Sox player Wade Boggs. Why, because he given a soft answer to wrath.
Daniel is faced with his potential execution. The executioner has come. He said you’ve got to tell me what this dream means or you going to be killed. And Daniel answers, the Bible says with prudence. And I want to recommend this to all of us, whenever somebody gets up in your grill, someone is on your case; you ought to be like Daniel and respond with prudence and discretion. What else could you do? It wasn't just that he was prudent, he was prayerful. I love this. It’s not going to appear on the screen. But listen to what says in verses 17 and 18 or you can look at it in your Bible verses 17 and 18. “Then Daniel went into his house and made the matter known to his three friends, his companions, and he told them to seek mercy from the God of Heaven concerning this mystery. What did Daniel do? How did he respond to his desperate situation? Daniel prayed. It was prudent and he was prayerful. And if we will be those two things, you'll be surprised how God delivers us from the crises of our lives. He prayed.
I heard a story about these three preachers that were sitting together and they were talking about prayer. What was the best posture for preying? And it happened that there was a telephone line repairman who was working and he was within earshot. So the first preacher said, I find, that the best way to pray is to stretch my hands toward heaven and the and look up the sky, that's the best posture for prayer. Well the second preacher said, Oh no, the best posture for prayer is to get on your knees. There the Lord will hear your prayer. The third preacher said, well I don't think lifting your hand your hands to heaven and are getting down on your knees. He said the best posture for prayer is just to get flat on your face, be prone before the Lord. The old telephone line repairman had had enough, he piped up and said he fellas, the best posture I ever had in prayer was when I was hanging upside down from the telephone pole. I tell you when you're hanging upside down and your situation is desperate, you are going to pray.
Too many of us, we wait until our situation is desperate before we pray. Prayer is not the last resort, prayer is the first resort and Daniel knows this. They come and say Daniel you got to tell us this dream or you're going to be executed. He is prudent and he is prayerful. Are you taking to the Lord, the burdens and crises of your life for his hand to move? Well Daniel was wise enough to do so. So now we move from desperation before God to deliverance by God. When we respond rightly, we’re going to find the Lord ready to act on our behalf and the Lord ready to deliver. Look at verse 19 and you’ll see if they’re on the screen. The Bible says. “Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of Heaven.” What happened, God delivered him. The situation was desperate but our God is greater and he delivered. He delivered Daniel. Now here I see three things. First of all, our God is powerful. I actually agree with all the enchanters of Babylon in one sense. In verse 11 they had said, “no one can give the dream except the gods.” you know what, they were right. It had to be someone who was powerful enough, someone to whom the darkness is light. Someone to whom what is shrouded, is revealed, and our God, is just that kind of God, he is powerful. He is able. Listen to what Psalm 139 says, “ oh Lord, your searched me, and know me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up. You discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my paths and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, you, oh Lord, know it all together.” and I could continue the reading, many of you know it well. You can't go where God is not. You can't know something that God doesn't already know. Daniel turns in his desperation to this powerful God and God reveals to Daniel would only the gods can do. Only the one true God. He is powerful. You know what else I see here? He is present. Again verse 11, the Chaldeans say, “no one can reveal this except the gods and their dwelling is not among men.” they were right on the one hand but wrong on the other. Only God could reveal the dream, but they were wrong when they said, “his dwelling is not among men, his dwelling is among men. He is Emanuel, God come to dwell among us. And God was with Daniel. God was with Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego. When they went into that fiery furnace, God was there. And when Daniel needed him, God was there, and when you need God, he will be there. He is powerful. He is present, therefore he is praiseworthy. And I love what Daniel does here. Daniel receives this vision .God reveals to him the dream. What does Daniel do? Look at the latter half of this verse. What does it say? Then, this the latter half of the verse, then Daniel blessed the God of Heaven. Daniel, not only asked for God to intervene, but when God did, Daniel remembered to say thank you. He praised him. Gordon read that passage earlier, so I won't repeat it now, but I do want to reiterate for us all, the importance, not only of bringing our petitions to God, but once he is gracious to us. Giving him our praise in response. I too often prone to forget when good things happen to me. I may ask for them, but then I don't remember to say thank you. In fact, just this week, one of our church members was so gracious, and called the office, and he said that some jambalaya. I've got 15 lunches and, I’m going to bring them by the office and so it was on Thursday of this week that dear brother brought those lunches by to feed all the staff. We all gobble them up and enjoyed them very much Well a day or two went by and it was Saturday and I was preparing for this message and I was reminded that I ought to give thanks and so I texted the brother and said brother thank you for that lunch. That was delicious. And how many of us, we’re feasting on the good gifts God gives us but we don't remember to say thank you.
While I'm at it, let me just say this, this church is so good to Nell and Me. You are so good to us and I know a lot of you have done things for me and I never even said thank you to you. I’ve not written you a thank you note and maybe I haven’t responded and right now can I just blanket say, thank you God for Istrouma, thank you dear friends for your gifts and your support and your kindness. I really do appreciate it, I really do. I really do. We ought to remember to be a people who are grateful; Daniel was that kind of man. He praised the Lord for God's good gift. And not only did he give thanks, he gave tribute. Because when Daniel stood before the king, the king said, “can you give me the interpretation, can you tell me my dream, and can you tell me what it meant.” Daniel said, “no sir,’ he said, “I cannot do it, but there is a God in heaven, and he has shown me what you think. Daniel didn't take credit. Credit was not due to Daniel. He was wise enough not to co-opt God's glory. He gave God thanks and he gave God tribute. He gave God the glory for the good thing that it been done. Well now I come to the end. I want to say something about the dominion of God. You see our desperation, if we respond to it rightly will lead to God's deliverance and in his deliverance we see his sovereign dominion overall. Now here I will refer to verse 44. Daniel is giving the interpretation of the dream and he says, looks to the screen you'll see the verse, “and in the days of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end and it shall stand forever.” there's the title of today's sermon. “The kingdom that shall stand forever.” sports dynasties rise and fall. Businesses rise and fall. Earthly kingdoms rise and fall, but there is a kingdom that will never fall. In fact, this King, his reign is first of all, perpetual. In perpetuity. For all time. Eternally, Jesus will reign. Daniel knew this from the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had had and the interpretation God him. Now listen to the dream. It’s given to us in verses 31 through 35. You saw o king and behold a great image. This image, mighty and have exceeding brightness, stood before you and its appearance was frightening. I want you as I read this to try to envision in your minds eye this statue, that was erected there. Verse 32 “the head of this image was of fine gold. Its chest and arms were of silver. It’s middle and thighs of bronze. Its legs of iron. Its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. As you looked, a stone,” now note this careful, “a stone was cut out by no human hand and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold altogether were broken in pieces and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found but the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. What a vision Daniel had. Daniel had a vision of kingdoms. A succession of kingdoms. Why? Because kingdoms rise and fall. The first of those kings was the head of gold and God told him, is Nebuchadnezzar. That is the Persian Empire. It was known for it’s its stores of gold. But with time, Babylon fell. In its place rose up a kingdom of silver. That was pictured in the arms and the chest of this image. That was the Medo-Persian Empire. it lasted some 200 years and just as Babylon was famous for its gold, Medo Persia was famous for its hoards of silver. But with time Medo-Persia fell. There was a man in Macedonia, Philip who rose up and his son after him Alexander and Alexander conquered the whole earth. His army dressed in bronze from helmet to toe and their shields and swords even of bronze and the mighty Grecian army swept the known earth. But that Kingdom to though it rose to the pinnacle of human achievement it fell. And behind it came that army of iron. The great Roman legions and they took the place of that Grecian Empire. But just like those before it, it to would fall. How would it fall? Listen to me. There was a stone cut out by no human hand. Who is this stone that came and struck the image and all the kingdoms of the world fall before this stone. I tell you he is the stone that was rejected of men, but is the cornerstone of the Church. He is the Lord Jesus. Cut by no human and the virgin birth is there prophesied, Jesus is the King of Kings and he will rein in perpetuity forever he the perpetual king. Now friends, as true is that is, and as important as it is, there's something even more important for you, that is, his reign must be personal. He’s going to reign. Doesn’t the Bible say every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord? One day, everybody is going to bow the knee to Jesus. Every Buddhist, every Muslim, every Hindu, every Christian, we are all going to bow the knee. What makes the difference is, did you do it now, willingly, of your own volition, in repentance and faith? Or will you that day, by force? This great king, Nebuchadnezzar, when given the dream and its interpretation, he did what we all ought to do. Look at it. Now I'm in verse 47. The last verse pictured here. “The king answered and said to Daniel truly your God is God. He is the God of gods and Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries for you have been able to reveal this mystery. . Nebuchadnezzar that greatest of all despots, bowed his knee before the King of kings and Lord of Lords. So must every one of us. There’s a mountain in New Hampshire. I believe there the Green Mountains is the name of them and in one of those great mountains, there was a protrusion. There was a piece of rock that jutted out from the face of the cliff. You see a picture of it here on the screen. This is an iconic image from New Hampshire. You know what they call this? The old man in the mountain. Boys and girls can you look up there and can you see his nose and his brow and his chin there. The old man in the mountain. And from time immoral, the old man in the mountain was there. I don’t know what you call people that live in New Hampshire, New Hampshireites, I guess. They love the old man in the mountain. In fact I believe he's on their state stamp and seal and a million other souvenirs from New Hampshire. But one cold night in 2003, the old man in the mountain, gave way. There were fissures that had formed by the ice thawing and the freezing of it over so many centuries and in the night, that great visage broke off and slid down the mountain to the valley below. And the old man in the mountain is no more. It broke their hearts. A man in the mountain. A man in the mountain who came down. This was a tragedy. I'm speaking to you today of a triumph. There is another man in the mountain. He is a stone cut by no human hand. He is the cornerstone. He is the Lord Jesus and he came down. No one can do these things except the gods and they do not make their dwelling among men. Oh yes they do. He made his dwelling among us and we beheld his glory. The glory as of the only begotten of the father. Full of grace and truth. Jesus is the stone upon which all hope is built. In fact I’m reminded, of this great old hymn. “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus's name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all of the ground all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand. Kingdoms rise and fall. Sports dynasties rise and fall. Businesses rise and fall. But there is a dynasty rising. There is a kingdom rising and will fill the whole earth. You need to make sure that you are a subject to that King. Lets pray. God, we praise you for your word. What a great God you are. You see in the darkness. You know our thoughts before we think them. You know a word before it’s on our lips and you reveal what is mystery. You tell us what is to come. It is certain. It is sure. We thank you that your kingdom is rising. And that we can be a part of it. By your grace, your mercy, we can be a part of it. We praise you, in Jesus mighty name, Amen.