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Making Healthy Choices

Mark Finley

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Mark Finley

Assistant to President for Evangelism at the General Conference

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  • October 18, 2014
    11:00 AM
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Welcome and I'm delighted that you are here and I'm delighted I am here. I just came back from spending the last month in Dublin, Ireland. You know Ireland is really two countries not one. Republic of Ireland is southern island, its capital is Dublin. It has its own central government and it is on the euro for currency, is attached to Europe. Northern Ireland has its capital in Belfast and it functions on the pound and the British currency and it's tied into Britain. Northern Ireland is largely Protestant. Southern Ireland is largely Catholic. And they have had significant tension there for many, many years.

 

One of the things that really impressed me this last month and it impresses me here in Warrenton as well is how God is a leading people who were honest hearted to know Jesus and His truth. Let me give you three short examples of that.

 

Georgia was a young art student in Italy. Her roots were in Dublin and she went to a wedding in Scotland. She had no background in religious things at all. She’s drinking, smoking, typical 26-year-old European secular, but there was something missing in her heart. There was this emptiness and longing. She left the wedding and get on a bus and somebody sat next to her and gave her a copy of the book Patriarchs and Prophets by Ellen White. I'm not sure whether that's the first book I would give somebody, rather weighty, rather heavy, but she got home and read the first chapter of the book. And said, I know who this Ellen White person is but she has to be inspired. Here is a drinking, smoking, 26 year-old that has little interest in spiritual things but reads the first chapter of that book and it changes her life. She read the book and looked up the Seventh-day Adventist Church and I was teaching a Bible class and she walked through the door.We began to talk. She came to our meetings. I made an appeal and Georgia made a decision to follow Jesus and be baptized.

 

 I think about Chris. Chris is brilliant, 33 years old, PhD biochemistry student. He works in some of the large hospitals in biochemistry in Dublin. As he was working on his PhD, obviously he came from evolutionary background, all of the science that he had thought that we evolved and were nearby matter of chance. But Chris as he looked into the biochemistry said, for some reason, this doesn't make sense to me. It doesn't make sense. Everything I study in chemistry is order, design, symmetry, and so he said I've got to check out this creation business. He googled on the Internet - found Seventh-day Adventist scientists who had a reasonable intelligent approach to creation. These Adventist scientists recognize that there are some problems, there are difficulties we would wanna know all the answers. But the answers we have are a lot stronger than the ones we don't have. Chris, a biochemist, began attending the Adventist Church and I made an appeal and this young PhD came forward to be baptized.

 

 I think of Geraldine, middle-aged, Irish woman. She is as Irish as they come. And again very little, no interest in religion, had a Catholic background, but it really that didn't impress her heart. But she was a truth seeker, open-minded. One night, she went to sleep and had a dream. And in that dream, she saw light coming through her television set. She didn't understand the dream. The next morning, she woke up and received a brochure in the mail for Ancient Discoveries Series with a television speaker by the name of Mark Finley. She had never heard of that guy before but she said maybe that's the light coming through the television set. She came to our meetings and we made an appeal, she came forward to baptism.

 

Story after story after story. One of the things that I am impressed about is the text in 2 Chronicles 16:9 - the Bible says, “For the eyes of LORD run to and fro throughout the earth and are seeking those that are honest toward Him.” I don't believe that you are here today by accident. God brought you here. You may have been driving by the church and saw a sign. Somebody may have come to your home and given you our brochure. You may have been searching the internet. But God, in His divine way, is gathering His people home. And whoever you are today, whatever your background is, coming into this church, we want you to sense the spirit of God is here. Whatever your culture, whatever your ethnicity, whatever your dress, whatever your education, you can walk through those doors and feel embraced and warmed and welcomed. This is the place that God wants you to be. It's the place that we grow together in Christ. It's the place we’re nurtured through His Word. God is doing something special.

 

 I always enjoy coming to Warrenton, being, what I believe is our home church. I got a heavy schedule after this, and so if you remember to pray for the old preacher. If I were young I wouldn't be able to do this, but if you remember to pray for the old preacher, we leave next week and spend a week in California preaching. I’ll leave from there and fly to Peru for a week of preaching to about 3,000 at a large meeting there. Leave from there and I think were home for one day and fly to Czechoslovakia to preach. Then I go to Greece and spend a few days. Then I go to the Middle East and so I will have a special assignment in the Middle East.

 

There is a stirring in the Middle East. There's something happening that is very difficult to explain. But here's what's happening, I cannot tell you the whole story, but I will tell you part of it. The ISIS group has come across the Middle East with vicious brutality not seen before in years and years and years, with their beheadings, their total disregard for human life. Many honest hearted Muslims are saying, if this is what Islam is all about, we need to reconsider. So there seems to be an openness, there seems to be a receptivity. Our Internet is getting into the Middle East and it's making a difference. Our television is getting into the Middle East. Many of these Muslims will never admit their spiritual longings.They are studying the Bible, they are studying Christianity; but in their homes were nobody sees them they are. So there is a real stirring in the Middle East.

 

There is a stirring in China today. I've just been arranging to bring about 60 pastors out of China and take them on a tour and give them Bible studies. These are the leading pastors in China and so pray for us and some of the delicate negotiations of work that we were doing because God is moving in the world in very incredible ways.

 

Let's open the Word of God together today. Let's pray, Father, we thank you for what you’re doing in the world. We thank you for the way Jesus is moving and it’s so amazing to see both here in Warrenton around the world the blessings of God. The fact we know that something unusual is happening that this is a preparation for your soon return, it's a preparation for the coming of Jesus, that you’re gathering your children, some who were former Adventist, you are bringing them back, some who had no knowledge of your message and your words, you are bringing them and LORD, we’re just amazed in what we see you doing. And we pray that you would move today in this service. In Christ's name. Amen.

 

A number of years ago, Nikita Khrushchev, who was the premier of Russia at the time, gave a speech to the Supreme Soviet in Russia. And as he was speaking, was talking about the atrocities of Stalin and he was very open. He was talking about how Stalin put to death or killed twenty million Russians. He was very, very critical of Stalin. Halfway through his speech, somebody passed up a note. And the note said this, it said, “Premier Khrushchev, what were you doing when Stalin committed all these atrocities?” That really angered Khrushchev and he shouted before the Supreme Soviet. “Who pass up this note? Not a person stirred. “I’ll give him one minute to stand up, who pass up this note.” The seconds ticked off, still nobody moved. “Alright,”Khrushchev said, “I’ll tell you what I was doing, I was doing exactly what the writer of this note was doing, absolutely nothing.” Khrushchev was afraid for his life and he was afraid to stand up and be counted. He was afraid to stand for his convictions. He was afraid to stand tall. It seems to me, if there ever was a time in the history of the world where God is calling us to stand for our convictions, it’s TODAY.

 

So you don't really believe what you don't stand for. If you don't stand for something, you gonna fall for anything. If you don't stand for something, your beliefs are not worth very much. If there's nothing you're passionate about, if nothing really matters, if everything is kinda like a blur on the spiritual radar screen of life, your faith is of little value.

 

This morning, I want to study the life of one that stood tall. One of history's courageous Giants. He served under at least five heads of state. He began his diplomatic service after he graduated from university and he continued approximately 66 years in the work of government. Kings valued his counsel. Politicians treasured his judgment. Statesmen sought out his wisdom and when his nation fell to a foreign power, surprisingly enough, this Secretary of State was amazingly appointed to another term by a foreign conquering power.

 

Daniel's courage speaks of three vital elements and the message comes echoing down the couriers of time to speak to us this morning in this church in this place. And Daniel speaks to us of three things.

 

First, you can never stand tall unless you stand firm. Second, you can never stand tall unless you bow low. Thirdly, he could never stand tall unless you look beyond.

 

So I invite you to take your Bible and turn to Daniel chapter one. We’ll spend some time in the entire book of Daniel this morning - discovering how we can stand tall in the circumstances of our life. Stand for the courage of our convictions which in a world of secular values is increasingly more difficult. Daniel, the first chapter, and we begin there with the first verse. Daniel chapter one and were looking there at verse one. “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god;..” Now, notice, there are two cities - Babylon and Jerusalem; two Kings - Nebuchadnezzar and Jehoiakim. Babylon attacks Jerusalem, devastates it - overthrows it. Here evil triumphs over good. Sin triumphs over righteousness. The forces of hell triumph over the forces of God. If you were Daniel and his friends taken captive, never to see your home again, you might raise a lot of questions. “God, where in the world are you? God, Jerusalem is in ruins. God, the sanctuary has been invaded and the sacred vessels have been taken out.” Daniel could've looked back at the smoldering ruins of Jerusalem and felt bitter and angry. He could easily have said, “I'll never see God again. I’ll never see my family again. God, why did you forsake us?” Have you ever felt that in your life? “Lord, I've tried to serve you. Lord, I’ve tried to be obedient to you, but look at what's happening in my life. It is really kind of a mess.”

 

There is an interesting nuance in verse 2. Notice what it says, “And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand…” The word for Lord in the Hebrew language is the word Adonai and it means the one who rules over all; the one who is supreme; the one who sits on his throne. From an earthly perspective, God, from an earthly perspective, it may look like things are a mess, but God is still Adonai. God is still sitting on His throne. God is still in control and if God wants to get Daniel into Babylon to influence Nebuchadnezzar to transform the whole nation of Babylon. God has ways of doing that. If God wants to influence eventually Medo-Persia, God has ways of doing that.

 

So because I cannot see the purposes of God, because I cannot see the plan of God doesn't mean God isn’t working out His plan. You may not always see the plan of God on your life, you may not always see God working in your life, things may seem to be upside down in your life, the mountain may seem high, but yet God has a divine plan that you may never realize.

 

Daniel is taken captive. King Nebuchadnezzar did not try to manipulate these Hebrews’ thinking and he did not try to coerce them to serve him. His strategy was gradually, imperceptibly to get them to compromise their integrity. Satan often doesn't work in our lives with some great moral compromise but he works gradually, imperceptibly, leading us to take little steps on the journey away from God until he brings us to the point where we’re doing things that we never imagined we would do. The steps are little at first. A person misses church for a week because he is a little tired and that becomes two weeks or three weeks. A person is unfaithful in their stewardship to God because they had bills. A person begins to compromise their integrity by one glass of wine here and another there, or eating this or eating that, and what ultimately happens, gradually, imperceptibly the pathway down is extremely slow.

 

Notice what the strategy of Nebuchadnezzar was.Let your eyes drop-down, please to Daniel Chapter one and you’ll notice there in 1:6 – “now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.”What Hebrew mother named her children the name was a character name for the child to serve God.

 

The name Daniel means God is my judge. God is my vindicator, so captive in Babylon, every time Daniel said his name, God is my judge. Now in the ancient world, a judge was not somebody that condemns you know. I wouldn't like to look forward to going before the judge, would you? But in the ancient world, the judge is the one that set all things right. He was the vindicator. So every time Daniel said his name,he would be saying God is the one that’s gonna set all things right. God is to vindicate me, Imaybe captive in Babylon. So his name reminded him of his God.

 

The name Hananiah means the Lord is gracious unto me. So when little Hani was running around as a little boy, he would say, “my name is Hananiah, the Lord is gracious unto me, I maybe captive in Babylon but the Lord is gracious unto me.”

 

The name here Mishael means God-like, one who is honest, who has qualities of integrity, one who is was just. Mishael, name Michael in English, God-like.

 

Azariah, the Lord is my helper. So the word Azariah in Hebrews is the Lord is my helper.

 

So that was really problematic for Nebuchadnezzar because the name spoke of the God that was on His throne, a god who is gracious, a god who is all-powerful. So Nebuchadnezzar had a strategy, I will not get them to bow down to idols initially but I will give them honored names. And so what were the names changed to? Verse 7 – “to them the chief of the eunuchs gave names…” And I can imagine this is special naming ceremony. The chief of the eunuchs brings them and he says “you’re in Babylon now,and we are gonna give you the most exalted names. He plays on their pride. He tries to speak to the needs of their hearts and to be accepted. He says I’m gonna give you exalted names. He gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar. The god Bel was the chief god of all the Babylonians. He ruled over all. So Daniel received a new name. “You’re special Daniel, you’ve been set aside. You'll be educated in the schools of Babylon.You'll be supreme in the government. You are the keeper of the hid treasures of Bel.” That’s what Belteshazzar means, the keeper of the hidden treasures of Bel. Then he goes on, he says to Hananiah, “Shadrach. The name Shadrach means servant of the goddess of Sheba.” Every one of these names is a change of identity, a subtle change of identity. To the name MishaeI, “Mishach.” Mishach means inspiration of the sun. Sun God was one of the chief gods of Babylon, and so “your name is inspiration of the sun. You are so honored to receiving the highest names of Babylon.”And then to Azariah, Abednego. Abednego is servant of Nebo. So they were given these names in a special naming ceremony. They were to receive the gods of Babylon. Their identity was changed.

 

Once you lose your sense of identity as a Christian, once you do not recognize who you are, and once you lose that sense of identity, you're on your road to compromise. Who are you today? I'm a son of God; you’re a son of God; you’re daughter of the King. We have been called by Christ to be an ambassador for Jesus in this world. Once you forget who you are, once you lose your sense of purpose.

 

One day, preacher was preaching in New Orleans. He was called the preacher of Bourbon Street. I don't recommend you go there, but the preacher Bourbon Street, very famous preacher, Pastor Bob - Bob Harrington was his name. (Oh Pastor Bob, his not the pastor of Bourbon Street.) Bob Harrington, Pastor Bob. And he would always take his Bible, go down among the disaffected, and drunks, and preached out on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. And one day while he was preaching, a drunk guy came out of the bar and poured beer on top of his head and poured beer all over his Bible. He kept preaching. Another day, he was preaching in Bourbon streets,some guy came and rip the page out of his Bible. One day, he was walking on Bourbon Street, and these guys, half drunk, came out and said, “Pastor Bob, where are you going?” He simply looked and said, “Well, I’m going to heaven, but I’m just passing through town.” “I’m going to heaven, but I’m passing through town.”

 

Once you lose your identity, once you don't recognize who you are, a son of God, a daughter of God, and Ambassador for Christ, you're on your way to be squeezed into the devil's mold. But not only is identity in the general Christian context but Daniel knew who he was. Daniel knew that he was special, that he was a Jew, that he was an Israelite, that he was to represent the true God before the world. Daniel, he understood his identity.

 

As Seventh Day Adventists, we understand our identity. Although there are many Christian churches, we believe that God has raise up the Seventh Day Adventist Church at a unique moment in Earth's history to prepare a world for the coming of Jesus. We do not believe we are superior to other Christians but we do believe that this is a unique divine prophetic movement. And once you lose that sense of identity, once you fail to understand who you are is an Adventist, once you have this idea “well does this make that much difference or that make that much difference and I'm just one of many Christians”, once you lose that sense of prophetic identity, Satan will begin to manipulate your mind and say, “why is this little compromise make a difference or why does that little compromise make a difference.”

 

The Bible says in Daniel 1:8 – “But Daniel purposed in his heart…” Now, Daniel and his three friends were ushered into banquet room of King Nebuchadnezzar and there everything to delight the eyes, everything to tempt the taste was on the table. The food was offered to idols and for them to participate in taking that food would have been idol worship. Also to partake of that food, they would have a compromised their integrity, violated their conscience because there was pork and other unclean foods there at the table. It would've defiled their health and deterred God's purpose for them. God has a destiny for you and if we compromise our integrity, we will fail to ever reach the destiny that God has for us.

The Bible says Daniel 1 verse 8, it says, “… but Daniel purposed in his heart.” Some translations say this word “purpose” incidentally is a very, very strong word. It means “determined.” It means “decided.” The heart… Here keep your finger in Daniel 1 and turn to Proverbs chapter 4 verse 23. Proverbs 4:23. And here in Proverbs 4:23, the Bible says, “keep your heart with all diligence for out of it spring the issues of life.” In the Old Testament, this is Proverbs 4:23 – “keep your heart with all diligence for out of it spring the issues of life.” The heart has to do with the mind. Do you know, “as a man thinketh in his…what? heart, so is he.” So it has to do the inner recesses of the mind. So the Bible says Daniel purposed in his mind. He decided in his mind, in the inner recesses of the soul where it really matters. Daniel could not compromise his convictions.

 

Author Samuel Johnson wrote this, “The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” Think about it. The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken. If Daniel would compromise his integrity there, if Daniel would not have made a firm decision to purpose in his heart, he would have started a process in which he was bound in Babylonian thinking.

 

CS Lewis, in Screwtape Letters, said this, “the safest road to hell is the gradual one, the gentle slope, the soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” I like that. The safest road to hell is the gradual one, the gentle slope, the soft underfoot. He's right. It's the daily compromises that erode our faith.

 

Now Ellen White, in the book Prophets and Kings, comments on Daniel's firmness on page 483. She says this,“should they [these Hebrews] compromise with wrong in this instance by yielding to the pressure of circumstances, their departure from principle would weaken their sense of right and their abhorrence of wrong. The first [wrong] step would lead to others, until, their connection with Heaven severed, they would be swept away by temptation.”

 

I remember a time that we were negotiating for the Olympic Stadium. I had preached in Puhani University in Moscow and had preached in the Kremlin Auditorium. And one of the things we really wanted to do was preach in the Olympic Stadium in Moscow. Part of the stadium would be that we would have seats for 18 thousand people. And Billy Grahamhad preached there for three days and we had negotiated with the government, ofthe Yeltsin government, if they were willing to give it to us to be there for a month. So we went to negotiate for it and we have a certain figure in our minds. If you rent the Olympic Stadium for a month, I was thinking that the charge would be about150,000 dollars for that month. And we had gotten in some large donations and we’re able to do that. Incidentally when we got to the Olympic Stadium, I brought with me a hundred medical personnel and we treated 20,000 people from Moscow. We took 18,000 blood samples. It was just amazing what we… God did there.

 

But anyway, so we went to the head honcho, the chief of the Olympic Stadium, to negotiate and I was thinking, “okay, they gonna charges us about 100,000 dollars” and so he came back with the contract and gave it to us and he said. I looked at the contract and it said 100,000 dollars and I was really thrilled.Then he looked at me smiled and said, “Look”, and I had a group with me, “I tell you what. I had really reduced the price and it is a hundred thousand dollars and you can just make the check out to the government but what I really want you to do is give me 25 thousand in cash.” Now I was thinking a hundred and fifty thousand, he offered us twenty-five thousand less–100,000 in the contract, but 25,000 in cash. I knew exactly what the man is doing. He is trying to bribe us.I knew it immediately, but, man, I wanted that Olympic Stadium. I wanted to preach to all those people.  I mean, that would be all right, wouldn’tit?I mean, because we could be thinking 150, we could save 25 thousand dollars of awards money on it. I mean, what he did with the 25,000 dollars that up to him, right? No, no, no. I looked at our team, I looked at him and said, “we’re gonna need to discuss the contract” and then we went back to our room. And we sat down and I said, “If we lose the Olympic Stadium, we lost it.”If that man says a hundred twenty-five thousand in the contract, we’ll pay it; but we’re not giving him 25,000 dollars cash because I know that that's a bride. And if we go that direction, what would we do the next time,or with the next time, or the next time.”So we came back, we got on our knees and pray.

 

And then we went back to him and probably nobody has ever said this to him before. And we said, “Sir, we think the contract is a mistake. We think you charged us too low. We would feel so uncomfortable paying only a hundred thousand for the Stadium so what we would propose that you take the twenty-five thousand dollars cash put it in the contract and we pay to the government for the Stadium,a hundred twenty-five thousand. We’re willing to do that because we wouldn't want to be this dishonest for we know the value of the Stadium.” He was gulping, you know, and probably thinking, “what am I gonna do next.”He said, “Ok, I’ll rewrite the contract.” When he saw we we’ll not be bribed, he did not budge. I mean, he knew that we were not gonna budge and he knew that he had to put that in the contract. We were not going to make that decision.

 

Let me tell about a 33-year old young woman. I know her very, very well. She was 33 at that time. Her husband was a graduate student, a PhD student. So he wasn't working. She was trying to support the family on a very modest income working as a dietitian. As she was working in this particular hospital as a dietitian, she got this – she was doing so well in her work that she attracted the attention of a large pharmaceutical company. The pharmaceutical company came to her and they said to her, “we want you to work for us.” She met with the vice president of that cooperation. An intelligent thinking young woman and the vice president said. Look, she was she was making 33,000 dollars a year at that time trying to support her family. Her husband was studying for his PhD. They were living in a little apartment. They had other bills to pay. And so the vice president of thispharmaceutical corporation met with her and she said to her, “look, we really want to you; you’re talented; you’re an intelligent young woman; you can do the job. We want you to represent our pharmaceutical corporation for four states. We’re gonna start you with 90,000 dollars a year salary and would give you 15,000 dollars in stock options. So we really, really want you.” She went through three interviews and as her last interview, she said to them, “you know, I need to tell you that I'm a Seventh-day Adventist” and they said no problem at all. She said, “That means that from Friday night sundown to Saturday night sundown, I’m not gonna work.” They said, “There is no problem at all. There are only three pharmaceutical shows through the year that you'll be required to come to on Sabbaths, on your Sabbath. And we know that you can get a waiver from your pope and he’ll write one for you; or from your priest or bishop, he’ll write a waiver for you.” She said, “This is not between my bishop / my priest, we don’t have them. And this is not between my pastor and me; this is between me and God. And I'm sorry but I can't do this.” And they said, “You’re crazy.”They looked at her and said, “We don’t understand. You’re making 33,000 dollars a year and we are offering you 90,000 and offer you 150,000 dollars in stock options and you are telling us that you're gonna walk away from that for three of your Sabbaths a year.” Theysaid, “young lady, we cannot...” And she said, “Look, this is not between my church and me.” But she said, “I know myself well enough, that if I compromise in these areas, I will compromise in other areas. I'm sorry, I can't do it.” And she walked away from it. They struggled. They really, really struggled financially, but she told me later, she said, “I had a peace in my heart. I would rather struggle and have a peace in my heart than I would compromise conscientious convictions.”

 

Daniel stood tall because he stood firm.

 

Secondly, you could never stand tall unless you bow low. You could never stand tall unless you bow low.

 

We are no match for the evil one, unless we have supernatural power from above. Look at Daniel's life. Daniel chapter 2. His life is threatened. Let’s breeze through three passages in Daniel 2. You’re looking there at Daniel the second chapter and you're looking there at verse 17. The king has a dream; he can't remember it. The lives of Daniel and his companions, because they're brilliant statesmen in Babylon, are threatened. And notice Daniel 2 verse 17 and 18 – “Then Daniel went to his house and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.” (Verse 19) “Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision…” Daniel's life is threatened, what does he do? He gets on his knees and he seeks the strength of God and God reveals him that dream. Daniel could stand tall because he bowed low.

 

But notice again Daniel chapter 6, same story. They are to worship no god except the king of Medo-Persia - Darius. But Daniel knows the decree has been passed. Daniel 6 verse 10 – “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before God, as was his custom in the early days.” There is supernatural strength that God gives you when you come to Him to seek Him for the solution of your problems.

 

Daniel 9 verses 3 and 4. Daniel could stand tall because he could bow low. Daniel chapter 9 verse 3 and verse 4. Notice what the Scripture says, it says Daniel is facing captivity. He’s facing bondage. He’s facing a prophecy that he does not understand. When Daniel is in exile, he prays to God. In the banquet hall, Daniel prays to God. In the Lions’ den, Daniel prays to God. When he doesn't understand prophecy, he prays to God. When empires collapse, he prays to God.

 

Daniel chapter 9 verse 3 and verse 4- “Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments.”

 

Notice what Daniel says, “God you are great and awesome God.” When we stand firm for God and on our knees seek him, we give God the opportunity to work a miracle in our life. When we compromise our integrity, we deny God the privilege of working a miracle. But when we're on our knees praying, we see God work miracles incredible ways that we would not have believed before.

 

I was meeting with a group of Bible workers in Chennai in India. And we were meeting with these young men and young women and middle-aged men and middle-aged women, and old men and old women that were Bible workers. There are probably thirty of them. And we were working many years ago in that hindered country. And there was one area that we were really concerned about it, it is a called Berabitru – a part of Chennai that was filled with drugs, violence, crime. The police wouldn’t even go in there. But we had a few people that were coming from that area. So I said to the Bible workers, “I'm not gonna assign you to that area, it's too dangerous for me to assign you. So I’m gonna let somebody volunteer for that area.”And an old woman, I mean she was old. She was hunched over. She had these rotten teeth, deeply etched lines on her face. She could hardly walk. And she said, “Pastor, I want that territory.” Now this old Bible worker, I mean, she had to walk on a stick. She didn’t even have a cane. She’d walked on a stick, you know. She’d tremble. “Pastor, I’m gonna pray for those people.” I mean, she was a prayer warrior, you know. Not real literate and I don't know if she could read or not; bad health arthritic condition and just, just I thought, “Oh Lord, send somebody else to that area, please. I got to know if you choose the right one”. But this godly woman was a prayer warrior.

 

About two days later, she came back and told me the story, to our group. She went into that area, when she went in… Now in those areas, you have gang leaders and the gang leaders stop you from going in and they threaten your life. So she went in and this gang leader, rough, burley Indian guy stops her coming in and he says to her, “Look, where you think you are going? And she said, “Oh, I’m gonna visit people and tell them about Jesus in the Bible.” For about two hours, he mocked her; he walked around her mocking Christ, mocking the Bible. And she said, “Look, I was just praying the whole time. Come Holy Spirit, saying Jesus, take control of this young man.” And she said after two hours the Holy Spirit came on her with a holy boldness and she had been around for two hours and people in the village gathered. And they gathered around her. They watch this array. She said, “Pastor, after two hours, I looked at his eyes and said ‘young man, you are young enough to be my son. I listened to you for two hours, now you shut your mouth and let me tell you about Jesus’.” She said that young guy became calm, sat down, and she began to explain to that village about Christ and about the power of God. And she said, “Pastor, that young man will be at the meeting tonight and he's got about fifteen or twenty more that he's bringing.” She stood firm because she bowed low.

 

You can stand firm on your job, you can stand firm at the University that you're going to, you can stand firm with a friend's, you can stand firm when you're invited to compromise your integrity, if you bow low.

 

If you try to reach, if you try to meet the devil in your strength every single time, you will be defeated. But on our knees before God, there is supernatural strength. There is unusual power. Why did Daniel stand tall? First, because he stood firm. He determined in his heart ahead of time not to yield his conscientious convictions. If you determine in your heart to do only what pleases Christ, if you determine in your heart only to do God's will and do not wait for the circumstances to arise, you’ll stand tall.

 

You'll stand tall if you bow low before God. But there is one other thing Daniel did. He stood firm, so he stood tall. He bowed low, so he stood tall.

 

Thirdly, he looked beyond. If you look beyond what is to be, if you look beyond time to eternity, if you look beyond the things of earth to the things of heaven, if you look beyond the grave to the resurrection. If you are sucked in by the things around you, and if this life becomes all that there is, you’re likely to compromise your integrity.

 

Let's look at Daniel - three passages. Daniel constantly took the long view. He constantly looked beyond. Daniel chapter 2. We look there at Daniel chapter 2 verse 44. Daniel was only twenty years old when he interpreted the King's vision. Three years after, it was about seventeen when he went into captivity. This is three years after, but here it is young and at twenty. God gives him that vision because ‘he purposed in his heart’. Daniel 2 verse 44 – “In the days of these kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed.The kingdom will not be left to other people. It'll break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms and it shall stand forever.” Daniel looked beyond what was to eternity. He looked beyond the rise and fall of empires. He looked beyond this life.

 

Daniel chapter 7, you’ll find thisall through the book of Daniel. Daniel 7 verse 27- “Then the kingdom and dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the most high.The kingdom is everlasting kingdom and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.” Daniel looks beyond the kingdoms of earth to the kingdoms of heaven.

 

Daniel chapter 12 verse 1 to 3. You’ll find all the way through the book of Daniel - Daniel gets a smell of heaven. Daniel gets a glimpse of eternity. Daniel has this glorious sense of the moving of God. And he says this life is more than simply when I see, but this life is a preparation for eternity.

 

Daniel 12 verse 1 –“And at that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people. There will to be a time of trouble such never was a nation…” Daniel 12 verse 2 – “at that time your people be delivered everyone found written in the book. Many who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Then those who are wise; those that are wise - those that stand firm; those that bow low; those that are wise - those that don't compromise their integrity; those that are wise that don’t sell out cheap; those that are wise that don't take the gentle road to hell by compromise; those that are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament and those that turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever and ever.

 

Every time Daniel looks up at the stars, he thought something like this, “The stars of this world fade into insignificance. Kingdoms rise and fall but God’s stars remain.” Babylon rises and falls, Medo-Persia rise and falls; Greece rise and fall, but Daniel says, “There is something eternal” and he looks at the stars and he says, “The stars shine in their course.” God's people will shine forever and ever and ever.

 

Nebuchadnezzar rises, his sons rise, Babylonian kings rise, they fall. Daniel survives. Darius rises, Cyrus rises, they fall but Daniel survives. As the stars, they live forever and ever and ever. When you get a wit of eternity and the smell of the glory of eternity, the things of this earth don’t attract you very much anymore.

 

A number of years ago, there was a ship filled with sheep that was traveling from England to Ireland -travelled up the English Channel over the Irish Sea. That part of the world has a great deal of fog. If you know anything about England, you know it is also often foggy. Ireland often foggy and the English Channel is often fogging. The day was bright and sunny when the boat left but the second day of the journey was foggy. Many years ago, they didn't have the modern sophisticated technological equipment that we have today. The electronic guides – GPS; Captain has a compass but in the density of the fog, you don’t know where you are and he shut down the motors and let the boat drift for a while. They had enough hay on the boat that the sheep could eat so they weren't worried and they kept on feeding the sheep. But it was rather a large flock of sheep aboard the boat. But the boat drifted and drifted. They would keep it going enough but they just didn't know where they were. About the fifth day, the sheep would not eat any longer. Something was a matter that came to the side of the boat and they bleated. They would just bleat and bleat. These sheep wouldn’t eat any longer. The captain had no clue what was happening. Two days went on on and the sheep wouldn’t eat and the captain is getting nervous. They wouldn't eat; they would just keep on bleating and bleating. The fog lifted and they were about a hundred yards off the shore of Scotland and the sheep had smelled the fresh mown hay in the field of Scotland and they didn't want that dry straw anymore. They didn't want that old straw in those bales because they could have the fresh hay of a new land.

 

When you get a smell of heaven and eternity touches of your life, Christ transforms you. Oh, the compromises of this world are just not worth because you’ve seen the glory of the new land.

 

You stand firm because you bowed low; because you look beyond. You look beyond the fog; you look beyond the miasma of this life, and eternity captures your heart and that's all you want.

 

Let’s pray together. And I wonder as we bow our heads to pray - Is there somebody here today that deep in your soul you know that there has been those little compromises. And you say – Jesus, I want to stand firm. Jesus, I wanna bow low. Jesus, I wanna look beyond. And the one eternity that so grips my heart and so fill my life that the things of this earth fade into insignificance. Lord, like Daniel, I want a purpose in my heart to serve you. If there's somebody here today that the spirit has been speaking to and you want those little compromises or may be big ones to be a thing of the past and you want eternity to fill your heart. Would you just raise your hands and I’ll pray for you.

 

Oh, my Father, thank you that eternity is real. We don't want to sell out cheap. We want your love, your grace, your power, to strengthen us, to fill us, to transform us. We praise your Name that it's a reality. In Christ’s name. Amen.

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Hi! I’m Mark Finley. For the last forty five years, my wife Tinnie and I have traveled the world sharing Jesus. One of the great joys of our life is to see laypeople catching new fish, and know what Christ can do for them, discover the gifts that God has given them and get actively involved in service. And that's one of the reasons why at this stage of our life, we want to give our life to training young people to training laypeople and really impacting pastors as well with the principles of God's kingdom and share very practical things and how to witness. We have a dream and that dream is to build lay training pastoral evangelistic Center in church in a new area where we don’t have any church in Northern Virginia in Dominion Valley – Haymarket, Virginia. And we see that training center in that church has been an opportunity for us to train laypeople, to train pastors, to train young people. Our plan is to have four to seven day retreats, will serve people food at our church, we will - they’ll be housed in the area, and they can of course keep their regular jobs. They’ll come for four to seven days. There’ll be different curriculums at different times of the year. Everything from how to do health ministries, how to conduct cooking schools, how to do stress management workshops, how to reach out to the community, how to give Bible studies, how to answer objections, how to hold evangelistic meetings. We’ll train some elders in lay preaching, how preach on Sabbath morning. In addition to that, we will train pastors, elders, laypeople in the whole art of teaching the Bible, teaching Sabbath school. So we see this project as incredibly exciting. We have already purchased the property but we have not built the lay training center yet and the church. And there will be a church and lay training center together.

 

I really want to do that. Of course, funding is always a challenge but we believe that God is to provide. If God puts it in your heart if the Holy Spirit touches your mind if you really desire to make a difference and make a financial contribution to us, if you have questions about our lay training center I want you to e-mail me at finleym@gc.adventist.org. That’s finleym@gc.adventist.org. Now please don't e-mail me and ask me a lot of Bible questions because I can't answer thousands and thousands of questions, but if you want to make a financial contribution to the lay training center and the church, you just email me. If you want more information, I’ll tell you how to do that. And if God puts it in your heart, we know that you will be richly blessed.

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