February 8, 2015
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
“Who’s the Real Winner?”
You are our refuge, O Lord. We pour our lives into Your hands that we may discover all the benefits of Your grace, in Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“In the spirit of a last minute effort to score more points than our opponents, I’m calling a short touchdown pass play (which hasn’t been very successful for the first 59:30 minutes of play) rather than simply hand the ball to the ‘beast’ in order to gain the last 18 inches of ground into the endzone.”
Something like that was the thought process for Pete Carroll last Sunday evening. And, I admit, it is super easy to call the right play from my easy-chair, after the bad play happened; and not at all that easy to call in the middle of the heat of the fiery furnace, or while the hungry, ferocious lions are circling their prey.
But, one of the things we learned here last week was that, no matter how the Super Bowl finished, we would still recognize that the only sovereign and ultimate authority over life is God – and He presents Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The Old Testament book of Daniel, with all those stories of Daniel’s heroic faith, always reminds us that Daniel is not the real hero – God is!
If, as we discovered last Sunday, the first half of Daniel is all about how Daniel keeps pointing us to God as the
hero of all the stories, then, today we start with a Who Wants to Be a Millionaire question. Do you wanna
The question on the board is: What is the main point of the last half of the book of Daniel?
A) The End Times will be Scary!
B) God is the ultimate winner!
C) Winning isn’t Everything.
D) Daniel learned to win from Mr. Miyagi. FINAL ANSWER?
Listen to this quick recap of the book of Daniel:
1) Nebuchadnezzar makes a huge gold statue of himself, and requires everyone to worship it
2) Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego refuse – and are thrown into a fiery furnace – but not burned – and there’s a fourth, un-named one, like the Son of God, in the furnace with them
3) A weird hand from the sky writes something no one can read on a wall – Daniel reads and interprets it
4) When Daniel refuses to stop praying to God (and start praying to Nebuchadnezzar) – he gets thrown into the Lion’s Den – and is not eaten! In every story so-far, God is the hero!
5) Then we come to the last half of Daniel – and the stories change from dramatic Sunday School stories of faith to apocalyptic visions of End Times events (and historical events that hadn’t happened yet)
6) In chapter 7, Daniel has a dream about Four Beasts
7) In chapter 8, Daniel has a vision about a Ram and a Goat
8) In chapter 9, Daniel prays and receives a message from Gabriel about “Seven Seventies”
9) In chapter 10, Daniel has a vision of a Man
10) In chapter 11, Daniel receives a message from Michael
11) And in chapter 12, Daniel receives an End-Times vision from Michael, including some strange language about 3-½ and an odd assortment of days that might reference 3-½ years.
Now, listen to the Word of God from this Old Testament book of Daniel 11:35 …. —-
Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.
May God bless the reading, the hearing, the receiving of His Word which never fails.
We experience great light in the truth that God did, and does, show up. Jesus did come. For us and for our salvation. This truth changes everything.
Today’s verse comes in the middle of the longest chapter of Daniel, and from the message from Michael. Who does this verse say is in charge?
What will come “at the appointed time”?
Remember what was happening in world history during the time of Daniel: Life could hardly have been darker. Because of the people’s departure from the ways of God, God allowed them to be disciplined by the world-power of King Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon – forced to leave their homeland and become slaves, for the most part, of the Chaldeans; forced to abandon their Jewish Laws; forced to eat food they considered unclean; forced to worship idols; forced to pray to something far less than their God – separated from family, from home, from custom, from language, from faith.
So, God provided Daniel and Shadrach and Meshach and Abednego to remind them of God’s majesty.
But then the whole book changes emphasis and direction and starts prophesying about even far worse days with much deeper darkness, the abomination that causes desolation – the Seleucid king Antiochus Epiphanes who, until Adolph Hitler, was the biggest scourge in all of Jewish history.
But in the middle of their personal crisis, and in the midst of the warning that it will get much worse for their great-great-grandchildren, Daniel reminds them who is in charge.
If that is true – that God, whom we know of as omnipotent, as omniscient, as omnipresent, as prevenient, as perfect in goodness – what does that mean for you and me?
What is the crises we are facing today? What health issue, financial constraint, relationship break-up, legal difficulty, startles you awake each night?
What piece of world news weighs your soul down? How does local news affect your day-to-day activities? What challenge is just too big? What fear is simply too overwhelming? What hurt or anger or attitude seems to control your every thought and action?
Name a time in your own life when you felt helpless, defeated, cornered, no-way-out: If what we said about
God is accurate, then we can trust Him to see this world through – we don’t need Daniel’s strength or faith or nerve. All we need is Daniel’s God! His God can be our God! And we can trust God – not because we are so awesome, but because God is so awesome!
Who here is disappointed in last Sunday’s Super Bowl game outcome?
Who here never really cared about it to begin with?
Who is just plain tired of all the Super Bowl hype regardless of who won the game?
On the ½ yard line, with 30 seconds on the clock, and Marshawn Lynch standing right next to you – it was not a guarantee, but it was a pretty good bet – and Seattle threw it … away!
I made a bet that, win or lose, Russell Wilson would hold a prayer-huddle, as is his usual practice (although winning is also his usual practice!). I did not see that happen – but maybe the cameras were focused on the celebrating New England Patriots instead.
That was just a game – a big game, but just a game. What we can give testimony to here is that in life, God is always the winner! A song I wish was in our hymnbook asks the question, Whose side you leanin’ on? With the responsive answer: I’m leanin’ on the Lord’s side!
Whose side you leanin’ on? I’m leanin’ on the Lord’s side.
I lean, I lean, I lean, I lean; I’m leanin’ on the Lord’s side.
I lean, I lean, I lean, I lean; I’m leanin’ on the Lord’s side.
Let’s always choose to lean on the Lord’s side.
Come, Lord Jesus! Amen.