At. Gateway Church in Austin, we continued our series through Welcome to the Jungle with on Moving Forward with Courage because bad people make bad choices that affect us.
Work through the following questions and scriptures on your own, and get together with your running partner, life group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning.
Bad people make bad choices that affect us.
“How Do I Struggle With This?”
Have you ever been watching a movie, a show, a documentary, or heard someone tell a story of bravery, and then think to yourself, “Would I do that?” or “How would I respond in that very same situation?” So here’s a real life example, when I get sick, achy, or tired, I can become the biggest baby there is. Here I am facing sickness, brain fog, upset stomach and a low grade fever…doesn’t everyone understand how strong I’m trying to be?
Well, Dr. Sabra Klein has a theory on the “man flu” and her research at Johns Hopkins University Hospital is starting to prove that it is a real thing. Men, there is hope to why
we’re such babies. “Men have more receptors to certain pathogens, and the research shows that males have a heightened response that summons cells to the site of infection, which contributes to the overall feeling of sickness.” You see everyone, there is science to prove that our “man flu” is a real thing!!!
What I forgot to mention is that there are also other contributing factors to why men feel sick the way they do, not limited to taking too many risks with their bodies, not taking
care of their bodies, avoiding health care professionals and the most worrisome…we don’t wash our hands the way women do. So now that we have full perspective… I’m reminded that my wife gave birth to four children (one of them with no drugs) and adopted a fifth, that is real strength, that is real courage. This woman gave birth to little person in a beautiful but painful way…and then she opened up her heart to adopt a baby boy that she did not give birth to. She faced the emotions of one day being rejected by our little Max, and knowing that he might utter the phrase “you’re not my real mom” and still loves him, cares for him and embraces him as her own.
“How do we all struggle with this?”
As we face the challenges of our own individual life, there’s an expectation that fear can and will overtake us, that the reality of our circumstances are going to prevail. I’m not talking about surviving the flu season, or recovering from a stomach bug…no I’m talking about real-life situations that can seem overwhelming and insurmountable. Situations that truly put us in a situation that is either fight or flight…a situation that requires courage!
You know courage…”the ability to conjure up strength as we face fear, pain or grief.”
That courage that keeps us locked into a movie or novel, the courage of a person who we may call a hero. The one who perseveres in spite of what they may be facing. I
mean we hear things like:
“All men die, but not all men really live!” – Sir William Wallace (Braveheart)
“What we do in life…echoes in eternity.” – Maximus (Gladiator)
And we are forced to stop and take inventory of our life.
“What does God say about this issue?”
How do we see this play out in scripture? In this series we are diving into the book of Daniel, and see how the entirety of the book plays out as God is guiding his people in the face of their being ousted from their homeland of Jerusalem. Here’s what we know so far:
- King Nebuchadnezzar is leading the charge
- There is a select group of young men from Israel who have passed a test in
Chapter 1. We know them as Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego
- Not only do they pass the test, they are found to have favor with God and men,
and were added to the king’s service as wise men.
- They have yet to give in and do things that would go against their conscience
Let’s read the first few verses of Chapter 2 to get the context of where we are now
Daniel 2 – In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep. 2 So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king, 3 he said to them, “I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means.” 4 Then the astrologers answered the king, “May the king live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.” 5 The king replied to the astrologers, “This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. 6 But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.”
7 Once more they replied, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it.”
8 Then the king answered, “I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided: 9 If you do not tell me the dream, there is only one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me.”
10 The astrologers answered the king, “There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any
magician or enchanter or astrologer. 11 What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans.”
The king’s response was to get angry, because these wise men could not perform at the level he expected. So, as any King of that day would do, he issued a decree, but this decree was the end of the wise men. This would mean that Daniel, Shadrach Meshach and Abednego would also be put to death…and you think your boss at work is bad. Now we know that these men who are loyal to God are now facing death to no fault of their own. What does the rest of the passage teach us about facing fear with courage.
We Have To Face Reality
By the time Daniel hears the news and returns home, the reality of the situation is settling in and he tells the other men what is taking place.
18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of
Babylon. When reality begins to settle in we have a choice to make. We can sit and fall victim to the anxiety and fear, or we can take that same fear and anxiety and present it back to God.
Expect Godly Intervention
19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. 21 He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. 22 He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. 23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.”
Walk In Godly Courage
24 Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, “Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.” 25 Arioch took Daniel to the king at once and said, “I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means.” 26 The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?” 27 Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you were lying in bed are these:
46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. 47 The king said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.” 48 Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. 49 Moreover, at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court.
“What should you do about this?”
If we’re not careful we can read and hear a story like this and tuck it away like a fairytale. We can celebrate the heroism and courage of Daniel, and forget that scripture is not just a collection of stories and fables. No, it reflects the heart of God for all of his children…that means YOU! I used to think that faith meant someone didn’t have fear, or they had such a deep relationship with God that they were somehow above the emotions and mind games that plague most of us. The truth is…people who have faith, people who walk in courage actually face what we all face, there’s just a process they go by that keeps them anchored to God.
What are you facing where you need to allow reality to set it?
To be honest with you, Libby and I are leaving this afternoon for Colorado and facing a week-long marriage intensive. It’s not an intervention, but we are scared to have someone dive into our marriage of 23 years and ask us questions that maybe we’ve been avoiding or just swept under the rug. We’re forcing ourselves to face the last 23 years so we can enjoy 23 more!
Maybe it’s a reality check about your physical health or your finances. Maybe you have to face the reality of whether or not you have a growing relationship with Jesus.
Where are you needing godly intervention?
I’ve shared this before, but the best man in my wedding became CFO for another one of our friends who had a growing multi-million dollar company. About 6 months after he
started I asked him about working for our mutual friend and what was different after he left Price-Waterhouse? He looked at me and said that our friend was CRAZY…literally
crazy. I asked him why and he said, “when we go into business meetings he prays, when we meet with banks he says, ‘God told me this and this is what we’re going to do.’ Carlos, this guy literally has Jesus running our company. “ Our friend has had so much success, and takes very little credit for it all. He expects God to show up, and time and
time again he has. What a way to live!
“How can we all live this out together?”
Where do you and I need to walk in godly courage?
There’s a reason why I’m saying “godly courage,” and the reason is that even though you have certain gifts and talents, you have been gifted those by God. I know you may
be thinking, “NO…I have this natural talent.” OR “I worked hard to learn and hone this talent and skill.” And yes that may be true, but it’s not fully true, because God has wired
you with the ability and capacity to learn and grow. Just like he’s given us the ability to step into fearful situations, and after facing the reality of it and expecting godly
intervention, we can walk in God’s courage.
One of my favorite verses is in Joshua 1:9 – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
What does this mean for us? Overall the walkaway is that God is with us at all times, and if we can learn to realize that this daily walk in God has nothing to do with a good
life, a bad life, a rich life, a broke life, a healthy life or a sick life. He is Emmanuel…God with us. As we face the jungles of life, we have to dispel the lie that we are isolated and
left to our vices, and instead know that God is ever present, and the courage to face what we face is not something we conjure up from our own strength.