Having a Different Kind of Ministry

Steve Viars September 11, 2016 Daniel 4:1-37

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3 principles to guide our conversations with those who are hurting because of poor choices they’ve made

I. Rejoice in God’s Patience with Others and Ourselves

A. Nebuchadnezzar was an evil man

1. Deporting the Jewish young people in the first place

2. Ruthless in his treatment of human beings

3. He was an idol worshipper

4. He had a rather significant anger problem

5. He kept making shallow professions and then abandoning them

6. He promoted and demanded the worship of himself

7. He tried to kill Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego by throwing them in the fiery furnace

2 Peter 3:9 - The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

B. What does the process look like of God drawing people to Himself?

1. God gives each one of us a conscience – cf. Romans 1

2. God has also revealed Himself to us in creation – Psalm 19:1

3. God’s goodness

Romans 2:4 - Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

4. The cross

John 1:29 - The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

5. The resurrection

Acts 2:32, 36 - This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses…Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.

6. Consequences

Galatians 6:7 - Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.

II. Look for Opportunities to Share God’s Truth with Others

A. He was a “meaning maker”

Hebrews 1:1 - God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 - All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

B. His ministry was God-focused

Daniel 4:8 - But finally Daniel came in before me, whose name is Belteshazzar according to the name of my god, and in whom is a spirit of the holy gods…

C. He was compassionate

Daniel 4:19 - My lord, if only the dream applied to those who hate you, and its interpretation to your adversaries!

D. He told the truth

Daniel 4:25 - …that you be driven away from mankind and your dwelling place be with the beasts of the field, and you be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven; and seven periods of time will pass over you, until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.

E. He offered a solution

Daniel 4:27 - Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.

III. Believe that Pride and Every Other Sin can be Overcome by the Power of the Blood of Christ

A. Pride is a terrible foe

Daniel 4:30 - Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?

The International Bible Encyclopedia - “In relationship to God, pride is haughty self-sufficiency; in relationship to other persons, pride is haughty lack of concern for their well-being.”

The Illustrated Bible Dictionary - “Pride refuses to depend on God and be subject to Him, but attributes to self the honor due to Him.  We may say with Aquinas that pride was first revealed when Lucifer attempted to set his throne on high in proud independence of God (Isaiah 14:12-14).  The fallen devil (Luke 10:18) instilled the craving to be like gods into Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:5) with the result that man’s entire nature was infected with pride through the fall.”

Psalm 10:4 - The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.

Proverbs 16:18 - Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Proverbs 29:23 - A man's pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.

B. Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more

1. Chose to honor God

Daniel 4:34 - But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation.

2. Put man in his proper place

Daniel 4:35 - All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’

3. Let the meek, humble Lord become your Savior and guide

Matthew 11:28-29 - Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

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Hey, have you ever wondered why God allowed evil into His world? Why He allows human beings to do things that are wrong, why He allows injustice and inhumane treatment of others, you wondered about that? Ever wondered why God allows calamities and personal tragedies? You might be here this morning and you have a friend or you have a family member, you have a neighbor who's going through a great difficulty. Whether their life was going well then boom out of thin air they received a bad medical diagnosis or there was an accident or the bottom falls out financially, you ever wondered about those kind of things?

We all have that's one of the most puzzling questions there is for people who on the one hand believe that there's a God but then ask on the other, "Well then what about the existence of evil?" You ever had doubts because of those issues? You realize it's okay to have questions, the bible is filled with people who cried out to God with their questions, who cried out with their concerns. Even sometimes with their complaints and done in the right spirit with the right attitude, that can be a sign of authenticity not rebellion. Have you ever asked questions like, "Now if God is in control how could we explain that?" Or, "If God is a God of love then how in the world could that have happened?" Just questions, sincere and genuine questions.

Now it gets even more complicated because for most of us it's not simply a matter of us wrestling with such matters ourselves it's a matter of wanting to be a genuine help to those the Lord has placed around us. It's not just a matter of you asking about those things, it's a matter of others in your life asking you about those things. Often not in the ivory tower of the sterile classroom existence, we're talking about in the crucible of real life suffering and real life pain and real life confusion. Now, the good news is God has not left us in the dark about those matters.

He doesn't, if we open the pages of His word, He doesn't airbrush that out of the bible. The study we have been doing this fall it brings us to a passage, a scripture that addresses all of that head on. If you are going through difficulty right now yourself these verses can be of real help to you or if you have a person in your life who is going through difficulty and asking you hard questions these verses can be of real help to you or if you think you might ever go through difficulty in the future these verses can be of real help to you.

If you think there ever might be a person in your life going through difficulty asking you hard questions these verses can be of real help to you. Have I covered all the basics? I think I have. Open your bible now if you would to Daniel chapter 4, that's on page six hundred and thirty-one of the front section of the bible under the chair in front of you.

Daniel chapter 4 or page six hundred and thirty-one of the front section, the Old Testament of the bible under the chair in front of you. We've been studying through the book of Daniel this fall verse by verse and chapter by chapter. We like studying the word of God in that kind of a systematic way for all sorts of reasons. We've been calling this loving our world by choosing to be different, our theme all year long is loving our world. Well when it comes to the book of Daniel clearly God was powerful enough to allow he and his friends to be different and we're asking ourselves, "Well, how can we live like that as well?"

This morning brings us to another fascinating story in this book where we learn about having a different kind of ministry. The Lord places all sorts of people around us for a reason. What does serving Him and serving them actually look like? What does it sound like? Let's read the first twenty-two verses of this text just to give a running start at all of these. Unusually this is now written in part by Nebuchadnezzar the king himself. "Nebuchadnezzar the king to all the people, nations, men of every language that live in all the earth may your peace abound. It seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me.

"How great are His signs and how mighty are His wonders, His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, His dominion is from generation to generation." Well, if a secular king's saying that, "Here's why I Nebuchadnezzar was at ease in my house and flourishing in my palace, I saw a dream and it made me fearful in these fantasies as I lay on my bed and the visions in my mind kept alarming me.

"I gave orders to bring into my presence all the wise men of Babylon ... " Here we have those guys again, "That they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream. Then the magicians, the conjures, the Chaldeans and the diviners came in and I related the dream to them but they could not make its interpretation known to me. Finally, Daniel came in before me whose name is Belteshazzar according to the name of my God." Note that that should trouble us. "Whom is a spirit of the holy gods and I related the dream to him saying, "O Belteshazzar, Daniel keep of the magicians since I know that a spirit of the holy gods is in you and no mystery baffles you. Tell me the vision of my dream which I have seen along with its interpretation.'

"Now these were the visions in my mind as I lay in my bed. I was looking and behold there was a tree in the midst of the earth and its height was great, the tree grew large and became strong. Its height reached to the sky, was visible to the end of the whole earth, its foliage was beautiful. It's fruit abundant and it was food for all, the beasts of the field found shade under it and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.

"All living creatures fed themselves from it. I was looking at the vision in my mind as I lay in my bed and behold an angelic watcher, a holy one descended from heaven, he shouted and spoke as follows, 'Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, trip its foliage and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts flee from under it and the birds from its branches yet leave the stump with its roots in the ground but with a band of iron and bronze around it in the new grass of the field.

"'Let him ... "Oh-oh, we're not talking about a tree, "'Let him be drenched with a dew of heaven and let him share with the beasts and the grass of the earth, let his mind be changed from that of a man and let a beast mind be given to him, let seven periods of time pass over him, this sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers and the decision is a command of the holy ones in order that the living may know that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whom He wishes and sets over at the lowliness of men.'

"This is the dream which I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now you Daniel, Belteshazzar tell me its interpretation and as much as none of the wise men in my kingdom is able to make known to me the interpretation but you're able for a spirit of the holy gods is in you. That Daniel whose name is Belteshazzar was appalled for a while and his thoughts alarmed him. The king responded and said, 'Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation alarm you and Belteshazzar ... ' Very important, "Daniel replied, 'My Lord if only the dream applied to those who hate you and its interpretation to your adversaries, the tree that you saw which became large and grew strong. whose height reached to the sky and was visible to all the earth and whose foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant and whose was food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelled and whose branches the birds of the sky lodged, it's you oh king, it is you.'"

Let's stop right there for a moment, we'll be back to finish this off in just a little bit. We're talking about having a different kind of ministry and with the time we have remaining before we celebrate the Lord's Table together, let's think about three principles to guide our conversations with those who are hurting in this case because of poor choices that they've made. Now I want to be sure that I have made that distinction, we're going to be focusing on that this morning because that's clearly true of  Nebuchadnezzar. What he's about to experience is because of the wrong path that he was on. However, some of the persons who are suffering around us are at a different category.

They're just facing the difficulty of living in a sin cursed world and our ministry to them might sound different than what we're going to read about in the rest of this text. You might want to jot down 1st Thessalonians 5:14 somewhere in your notes if you're taking those notes because it talks to us about how it's important to have a series of different kinds of ministry or conversation approaches dependent on the condition of the person that we're seeking to serve.

That's the passage that says, "We urge you brother to admonish the unruly." That's what Nebuchadnezzar was and he needed some admonition and he's about to get it, "Chop down the tree." That text goes on to say, "Encourage the faint hearted. "See not everybody is unruly who needs to be admonished, the person who is faint hearted simply needs to be encouraged. Then the text says, "Help the weak." A different category of persons then Paul says, "Be patient with all men."

We have to have a variety of ministry approaches dependent on the condition of the dear person that God has given us the privilege of ministering to or loving. Here in Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar, we're talking about a man who is on the wrong path big time and has to be loved in a particular way. Some three principles to guide our conversations with those who are hurting because of poor choices that they have made, first of all rejoice in God's patience with them and with others and with ourselves.

I. Rejoice in God’s Patience with Others and Ourselves

Now I realize some of you're brand new this morning and I want you to know I'm so glad that you are here but that text we just read was what? Let's just back up for a minute and bring us all up to speed, the book began by reporting that Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, came to Israel and began to conquer the nation. One of the first steps was to overthrow Jerusalem and then take some of the Jewish young people and deport them back to Babylon, train these Jewish youths in the ways and the customs of the Babylonians.

That's what was typically done in cultures like this at that period of time. The reason was as they continue to overthrow Israel there would be trained Jewish leaders who are young in place to help assimilate the rest of the country into Babylonian culture. In other words, you change, you train, you indoctrinate young leaders and therefore you've changed an entire country. Well Daniel and his friend Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego were part of those teenagers who were deported. Think about that, that's what this book is about, how God was powerful enough to allow these young men to be faithful even though they were young, even though they were far away from home, even though there apparently was no parental involvement and oversight and there was tremendous pressure to compromise which means this is the book of hope.

In other words, if God was powerful enough to do this sin through Daniel and his friends God is powerful enough to do this through people like you and me today. That's the point of this book. One of the key figures so far has been this king, king Nebuchadnezzar and there's no question about this Nebuchadnezzar was one evil man. For those of you who have been part of this series would that be a hard argument to make? It's imprinted all over the book, deporting the Jewish, young people in the first place, no hint of concern for how that kind of an action would affect them at all. They were a different nationality, these Jews therefore they were his slaves, therefore he could do with them whatever he pleased in his big mind, then ruthless in his treatment of human beings.

How many times has he threatened in this book to tear people limb from limb and destroy their houses? It's like he's not happy unless he's said that three times before breakfast. That's the kind of guy he was then an idol worshiper  that's why he gave Daniel and his three friends new names. He even said as much in verse 8 that we read a moment ago, he also had a rather significant anger problem, would that be true? Remember back in chapter 2, when the wise men couldn't tell him his previous dream and its interpretation he just decided to have every wise man in the kingdom killed.

That might be a bit of an overreaction but that's what you do when you're angry, you say stupid things. By the way that did not end with Nebuchadnezzar, nothing personal but he had a rather significant anger problem. He kept making shallow professions then abandoning them, he'd say when he was in jam, "Oh, now I'm going to become a follower of Daniel's God." Then as soon as he was out of that jam he is back to worshiping his own idols again. Which showed he was just trying to add the real God to his collection of other Gods. There's no real repentance at least not up to this point. No true belief, no genuine change, he was so wicked he promoted and demanded the worship of himself. He has this ninety foot ... Think about it, you know how tall ninety foot is?

Our gym on this building is about thirty, think about that, three times higher than that the guy erects a statue of himself and demands that everybody ... He's got a bit of a pride problem and if you were the God of heaven and earth what do you do with a guy like that? Of course he tried to kill Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego by throwing them in the fiery furnace, that went very nice. An experiment by the way that backfired terribly when the true God protected the lives of these three men through the ministry of the preincarnate Lord and savior Jesus Christ whose subsequent death, burial and resurrection we're going to be celebrating in just a little bit.

The bottom line is Nebuchadnezzar was one evil fellow, in fact you could write the word pride over his entire life story. Here's the amazing thing, please don't miss this, God was still working in Nebuchadnezzar's life to bring this wicked man to Himself. That's the point of these dreams and some might read these verses of what's about to happen as the dream comes to a reality and say, "Well God sure being mean to Nebuchadnezzar, He's sure harassing Nebuchadnezzar, God is surely a vindictive God." Friend, listen the exact opposite is true; Daniel 4 is a marvelous expression of the love of God for this king. It's amazing the lengths to which God will go to draw men and women to Himself which is why Peter would later say this, "The Lord's not slow about His promise as some count slowness but He's patient toward you."

You glad for that this morning? He's patient toward you and Nebuchadnezzar and everyone else not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. Now, since that's the case let's back up and think about that a little bit more globally for a second. What does the process look like of God drawing people to Himself? Whether we're talking about Nebuchadnezzar or whether we're talking about people like you and me today. I'm not suggesting, this is comprehensive but here's a few important steps for sure: one by giving every one of us a conscience.

You understand every human being is born with the knowledge that God exists, Romans chapter 1 verse 18, "That which is known about God is evident within man." That's part of what it means to possess a conscience, that's why in the Old Testament we read, "Eternity is set in the heart of man by our loving God." He's also revealed Himself to us in creation Psalm 19:1, "The heavens declare the what? The glory of God." Friday night I hope you were thinking about how powerful God is as those storms rolled through huh?

The Bear and I were sitting out on our front porch in the porch swing watching that lightning and listening to that wind before we went inside. That's where we're talking about how powerful, that the heavens declare the glory of God if you will allow it to. Then there's God's goodness, a very important verse in this conversation as Romans 2:4, "Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience?" In other words, acting like the things that you have are by the power of your own hand, not knowing that the kindness, the goodness of God leads to repentance. God showers us, all of us with good things for the purpose of drawing us to Himself then of course there's the cross. How could you look at the cross and not repent and believe?

Which is why John the Baptist said, "Behold the lamb of God." Think about the cross, there's a cross in every street corner in this country, "Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." How could that not melt your unbelieving heart? Then there's the resurrection, every person has to decide what they're going to do with the message of the empty tomb. Which is why Peter in the great sermon on the day of Pentecost says, "Jesus, God raised up again, the tomb is empty to which we're all witnesses therefore let all the house of Israel and everybody else know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucify, the tomb is empty and the savoir is alive."

You have a conscience and you have creation and you have God's goodness and you have the cross and you have the resurrection more than enough evidence to melt anybody's heart. What about those who still will not believe? Like Nebuchadnezzar in his day after all of the truth that has been received then what might God do? The answer is consequences, cause and effect, "Don't be deceived, God's not mocked, whatever a man sows then will he also reap." Hear me, I'm not saying that is true of every person going through difficulty, that's not my point, that's why I said what I said at the beginning in our introduction but it was certainly true for Nebuchadnezzar.

See the way of the transgressor is what? Is hard why? To jar human beings out of their complacency, out of their self-sufficiency and I recognize Daniel 4 might look to some like the actions of a mean, capricious, vindictive God. The truth of the matter is they were the actions of a patient, merciful, loving God who is seeking to do whatever was necessary to draw a man like Nebuchadnezzar to Himself. If it takes consequences, then consequences are good. Now, there's more to the story surely but let's just pause right there and think about some implications of what we said, I want to say this as sweetly as possible but I would be less than a pastor if I did not point out that you might be here this morning and you're a lot like Nebuchadnezzar.

Maybe you made some kind of shallow profession at some time in your life or maybe several of them but it's not been genuine, there's no change, there's no real, personal growing relationship with Christ. Maybe the Lord is now bringing some difficulty into your life, in fact you may have come into this church auditorium this morning cursing Him under your breath. I just want to gently ask you this morning, friend could it be that God is using that as His loving means of drawing you to Himself? Because His other methodology in your particular case was not effective. Another implication of this is what do you do if you have a Nebuchadnezzar in your life?

You've talked to that person and talked to that person, the individual has had all sorts of goodness, all sorts of opportunities to repent, all sorts of opportunities to believe but they continue in their proud, self-sufficiency. They continue down the path that they're on, what do you do with a person like that? I would just ask you this morning have you given up on that person? Have you concluded in your heart or mind that that individual is a hopeless case?

If that's true I want to urge you to hear the message of Daniel chapter 4, the saving arm of God is long and the saving power of God is far reaching, may we never give up on someone. Thirdly, we got to praise God for His patience, His love and His mercy huh? Do you mind if I just gently because I love you remind you of this? We all brought Nebuchadnezzar like tendencies to the equation. Could I get a, "Hmm, you might be right about that? I'm really glad you loved me enough to remind me of that this morning." See Nebuchadnezzar was not the first and the last person who struggled with pride.

If you know Jesus Christ as your savoir and Lord this morning, God did some marvelous things in your life to bring you to Him. He's being patient with these consequences in Nebuchadnezzar's life and He had to do the same for us. Now what's the second principle that flows out of this passage? Let's read a little bit further, let's see how Nebuchadnezzar does with this news, I'm in verse 22 now, "It's you oh king." Daniel has the strength to say, "For you have become great and grown strong and your majesty has become great and reached to the sky and your dominion to the end of the earth. That the king saw an angelic watcher, a holy one descending from heaven and saying, 'Chop down the tree and destroy it yet leave the stump with its roots in the ground but with a band of iron and bronze around it in the new grass of the field and let them be drenched with a dew of heaven and let them share with the beasts of the field until seven periods of time passed over him.'

"This is the interpretation, oh king, and this is the decree of the Most High which has come upon my Lord the king that you be driven away from mankind. Your dwelling place be with the beasts of the field and you be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whoever He wishes. In that it was commanded to leave the stump with the roots of the tree, your kingdom will be assured to you after you recognize that it's heaven that rules.

"Therefore oh king ... " Here's what manly ministry sounds like right here, "Therefore oh king may my advice be pleasing to you, break away now from your sins." Can you imagine saying that to the king? By the way I don't think he was scowling, I don't, I think he was smiling in the sense that he's doing this out of love for this man. "Break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your inequities by showing mercy to the poor." Isn't that fascinating? In case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity all these happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king, twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, you would assume won't you? After hearing that interpretation of that dream that you'd never be proud again like, "Don't be proud, Nebuchadnezzar don't be proud." You'd make a sign, right, you'd hang it on your head.

"The king reflected and said, 'Is this not Babylon the great which I myself has built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?' Ops, "While the word was in the king's mouth a voice came from heaven saying, 'King Nebuchadnezzar to you it is declared, sovereignty has been removed from you and you'll be driven away from mankind, your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field.' Pride makes you animalistic friends. "You'll be given grass to eat like cattle, seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes."

"Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled, he was driven away from mankind, he began eating grass like cattle and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagle's feathers." Don't you love that picture? That's a bad hair day right there folks, "His nails like bird's claws." Let's stop right there and make some observations about Daniel's ministry, see look for opportunities to share God's truth with others.

II. Look for Opportunities to Share God’s Truth with Others

See not only does God want people like Nebuchadnezzar to be reconciled but he wants people like you and me to serve as ministers of reconciliation, what does that mean? What does that actually look like in real time? Well Daniel was a meaning maker, in other words Nebuchadnezzar came with a strange dream and Daniel makes sense of it for him. He interprets the dream and I realize you might say, "What does that have to do with me? God is not revealing Himself through dreams in this day and age and even if He was I wouldn't have the ability to interpret them, what does that mean?"

Well let me answer that question with a question and it's a very important one, how is God speaking to people today? The answer is through the living word, the Lord Jesus Christ as He's revealed in the written word, the inspired word of God, which is why the writer of Hebrews would say, "God after He spoke long ago to the fathers and the prophets and many portions and in many ways." Like Daniel 4. In these last days has spoken to us in His son whom He appointed heir of all things through whom also He made the world. Then couple that with this all scripture, how do I know? All scriptures inspired by God it's profitable for teaching, reproof, corruption, training and righteousness why? So that the man of God, the woman of God, people like you and me may be adequate, thoroughly furnished, equipped for every good work.

Now where does that leave us? You very well may have someone or more than someone in your life if you're living a consistent Christian testimony who are saying the same kind of things to you that Nebuchadnezzar was saying to him, to Daniel, "Make sense of this for me." "My life really stinks right now, we're keeping a marriage together, seems like a hopeless task." Or, "These children are going to drive me crazy." Or, "Having these parents are going to drive me crazy." Or, "The pressure of school on me is more than I can handle."

We could flash out opportunities all day long, where persons may be coming to you and asking for some sort of meaning to be made. What a wonderful opportunity to say something like, "Well have you ever thought of it from this perspective my friend?" Have you ever considered what God's word might say about your situation? I'm not talking about acting like a know it all, I'm not talking about being inauthentic or plastic nor am I talking about forcing ourselves into situations or conversations uninvited. Think of it like this how many times do we see in the gospels Jesus having a conversation with a person who tells Him about a particular situation or problem and He essentially helps them take off one set of glasses through which they're interpreting their event and put on a biblical frame of reference?

I would just ask you this morning do you love the people in your world like that? Being a meaning maker, what are some things that we can observe about the way that Daniel did it with his king. His ministry was God focused, it's fascinating that this king by now knew Daniel so well that the way he thought of him was, "There is a spirit of the holy gods in you." Do the people who work around you say that about you? Would your extended family say that about you? That, "There's something different about him, there's something different about her." If I want to have a perspective from the word of God I know that person will love me enough to give it to me, also this it was compassionate.

It's really fascinating that Daniel said, "My Lord ... " Think of everything that Nebuchadnezzar had done to Daniel and his friends up to this point. "My Lord if only the dream applied to those who hate you." That's love, there's a genuine compassion there that is powerful and compelling. He also told him the truth and I cannot stress that enough, listen we want to be loving to the persons in our life, don't we always? Sometimes at the appropriate time and in the appropriate way that means telling the truth. It is not loving to withhold God's truth from other people that He has brought across  our path. Daniel was godly enough to look this king in the eye and tell him the truth, "It's going to be you, you're going to be driven away from mankind, your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field, you'll be given grass to eat." That was the truth.

It would have been unloving for him in that ministry situation for him to have said anything but the truth of God. I wonder how many who hear this message are going to have to acknowledge, "You know what? I'm missing opportunities all the time. I can be the fair haired boy but as far as looking for opportunities to give the truth of God, to be an ambassador for Christ, I'm missing it too often. I'm not loving my world with a ministry that is different." He offered a solution, can you imagine saying to the king, "May my advice be pleasing to you, break away now from your sins."

This is the guy forever who's tearing people limb from limb and tearing their houses down but you know what? Daniel loved this king so much that he was willing to risk his own safety, his own reputation in order to provide this proper solution. I just want to ask you this morning are you loving the world by developing a different kind of ministry? Are you finding ways to be like Daniel? Well where does all of these end? Look at verse 34, it's fascinating, here's what happened, "At the end of that period I Nebuchadnezzar raised my eyes toward heaven, my reason returned to me. I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever for His dominion is an everlasting dominion. His kingdom endures from generation to generation, all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, He does according to His will and the host of heaven.

I admit that now among the inhabitants of the earth no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, 'What have you done?' At that time my reason returned to me Nebuchadnezzar said, my majesty and my splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out. I was re-established in my sovereignty and surpassing greatness was added to me. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise, exalt and honor the king of heaven for all His works are true and His way is just and He is able to humble those who walk in pride. What do we learn there, friends? Believe that pride and every other sin can be overcome by the power of the blood of Christ.

III. Believe that Pride and Every Other Sin can be Overcome by the Power of the Blood of Christ

No question about the fact that pride is a terrible foe and God may be bringing some persons who are very proud across your path. We saw it in Nebuchadnezzar's lips, we read what he said, "Is this not Babylon the great which I myself have built?"

The International Bible Encyclopedia defines that in relationship to God pride is haughty self-sufficiency in relationship to other persons; pride is haughty lack of concern for their own wellbeing. There's no question this was a beautiful city but there's also no question that God had given Nebuchadnezzar ample opportunities to recognize that He was the true God of heaven. Enabling any of us to accomplish anything but he chose to be like the man of Psalm 10 that, "The wicked through the pride of his countenance will not seek after God, God's not in all of his thoughts, pride goes before destruction. A haughty spirit before a fall, pride will make you animalistic." That's the point by the way of Romans 1, even animalistic sexually.

Proverbs 29:23, "A man's pride will bring him low but a humble spirit will obtain honor." The point of this text is God revealed truth in a dream to a man like that anyway, which tells us, "Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more." The power of Christ is able to deliver a human being from this kind of pride, what do we do? Choose to honor God. "At the end of that period I Nebuchadnezzar raised my eyes toward heaven." I would just say to you this morning if you've  never trusted Christ the savior and Lord, friend maybe God has brought you to the end of yourself. I know it's hard, in our pride we don't like to admit our sin, we don't like to admit that we need a savior, I understand that it's hard but I would just urge you to humble yourself before the God of heaven and earth while you have the opportunity to do so.

Nebuchadnezzar put himself in his proper place, all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing and often what prevents a person from coming to Christ is believing that, "I can save myself by my own works." Yet the more I understand the holiness of God, the more I understand that I need a savoir. I need someone else to shed His precious blood for me then let the meek, humble Lord become your servant, your savior and your guide, "Come onto me all you who are weary and heavy laid and I'll give you rest." Friends trying to be your own master it's exhausting, walking in pride is exhausting and we have a perfect lamb who has died for our sin, making it possible for us to be delivered from our pride and to find our rest not in our righteousness but in His.

Let's pray together shall we, father in heaven, Lord what a fascinating story of your great grace to this king doing everything to draw him to you. Father each one of us could tell a similar story in different ways, to different degrees but the way that you worked. We bow before you this morning and thank you for your patience and your mercy and your love. Father I pray that you would help us to think about our ministry to others.

Too often we just give up or we fail to speak truth or we don't do it as lovingly or as graciously. We just admit to you this morning it's so hard to know in a given situation how to serve you, would you give us wisdom from on high in order to be marvelous ambassadors for Christ. Now Lord as we move into this time of celebrating the gospel, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, Lord what a privilege it is to think about this powerful savior in the book of Daniel being our savior as well. We pray this in Christ's name, amen.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video