Be True To You
Well this morning we have a special guest Matt AMISOM Come on up Matt Amerson is the interim director of the grace possible fellowship and we've been having some updates recently it's been nice because we live in Phoenix so most of our organizations that were affiliated with their in the Grand Rapids area and we'd like them to come here in July and August but for some reason they don't want to but we'll take them when we can get them so Matt just give us an update on what's going on in the greatest possible fellowship Thank you Thank you Pastor Josh I have a need to start off with a little bit of a confession. This is been weighing on my heart the moment I stepped into Arizona this really weighed heavily.
I had to confess to you that I'm a die hard Seahawks fan.
But I was expecting a few in there but there's.
I don't want to go too far with that but I understand last night that you won over New Mexico state so that's a that's a big victory.
Exactly so there's a lot of excitement in this area and I want to share some things with you last yesterday we were here to be a part of the celebration service for the life of Bruce camper and the tremendous impact that he's had on this community but also communities around the world.
Impacted my life in a great way when it came to ministry when he was at Grace Bible College as president I was a student at G.C. and he always had an open door for me and for others that want to talk about life and about ministry he was instrumental in my development going to ministry and in the churches in Washington in Michigan and then now as the interim director of the Grace gospel fellowship.
I want to talk about the Kemper family just really briefly and they have exemplify what the mission statement is and that is working together to advance the grace of God and impacting the world for Christ that emphasis on the world. Thinking about even the Kemper family the far reaches of Africa to right here in Phoenix and all points in between pastors Josh and Mike and their wives their families Stephen Marie McFadden just to name a few here at Grace Bible Church and the impact they have the desire that they have to reach this community pastor Josh and I go back a long ways I see Steve McDonald back there we go back a long ways as well and and G.C. is a little bit like Vegas and yet nothing like Vegas in that what happens it stays a G.C. So and he stories that we have to share about each other are off limits.
Of a God chooses to use us regardless of our past decisions you're going to see a video coming up in a at the end of my time talks about the family Bible conference that is coming up this summer in Holland Michigan on the shores of Lake Michigan beautiful community beaches you wouldn't think of beautiful sand beaches like you'd find in Southern California but they are there in West Michigan so it's a great time of fellowship and encouraging it as you come together with fellow believers in Holland Michigan right now we're in the middle of the G G F forty days of prayer and that is for our twenty twenty vision and that's twenty twenty vision the first twenty is ten churches planted ten churches revitalized the second twenty is twenty new pastors and just to give you a brief update just to share some highlights as far as those ten churches plans we have three churches planted already in Minnesota Indiana and Illinois and then we're also talking about another church play in the Chicago area when it comes to chant ten churches revitalised we're looking at a couple churches Pinellas Park in Florida and some of the decisions they're making to be able to better reach their community and love their community in a in a new way in Grants Pass Oregon under the leadership of John Marshall you may be familiar with him with G.M. I in Puerto Rico but he is going in trying to change the environment. So that there's healing that goes on in the congregation and in the community and cultivating that love for community and then as far as our leaders we are about halfway towards reaching that twenty new pastors gentlemen that have come from the mission field into the pastorate lay leaders that are willing to take up the mantle and lead and so we're seeing a great excitement and yet we know there's going to be some challenges moving forward and that's where we need you you guys have been tremendous partners with a great gospel fellowship and we need to think about how you can get involved maybe think about as a church what it would be like to plant a church on the other side of Phoenix or in a different community in Arizona maybe there's that aspect of revitalization that interests you think about a sister church in your own region that you can come alongside and and cultivate to a point of healthiness Or maybe you yourself have decided you know I just feel like God's calling you to leadership whether that's here at Grace or that's somewhere around the world or in this country that you could serve as a pastor as a leader so we encourage you to think individually Yes but as a church how you can come alongside of us in the grace gospel fellowship.
To reach our twenty twenty vision will you join us and I want you to check out this video this is a promo for the family Bible conference coming up this summer we encourage you to get involved I know that's a long ways away and who wants to go to Michigan but like you know that's July so you want to escape the the heat there's a little humidity I will admit but you're right along the shores of Lake Michigan a beautiful time that we have together as believers so thank you for this opportunity and if you get the video that degree.
July issue is actually quite nice. Some for the few mosquitoes and I get you but thank you Max for for being here and giving us an update on the G.G..
Well yesterday I know how I look around and I know some of you were here yesterday for the memorial for Bruce camper and. Again I look around and know some of you knew him probably very well others of you maybe just knew him by name or reputation are you able to pick him out in a crowd but it was a special service and I have never been a part of the service or even better service like that where he could have all four of his children stand up there and talk about him and not only his children but his grandchildren and all of them did a fantastic job it was a very unique service. But Bruce is dame many of you might not know this but his name was Ernest Ernest Bruce camper and throughout his life he had many different titles president pastor husband father. Board member.
But the most important part of his identity he never fully realized in this lifetime he was a passage and if Eason's in the first part of the fusions it says that God predestined us for adoption the son ship.
And on Thursday February second Bruce passed away it was hard to comprehend but for the first time in his existence Bruce found out who he really was.
He was a child of God.
And he realized that he was home. And if you just stop and you think about that it gives you chills and it and it kind of makes you excited for that day that you're going to be home forever and that's that's what our true identity is and we can long for that but the fact is we're not there yet and so how do we live our lives in while we're still here while we're waiting for that our true identity is not in this world it's not found in this world and so what we're trying to fight is a world that is trying to confuse and change Archer identity last week I introduced a new sermon series where in the Book of Daniel so I invite you to open your Bible so the Book of Daniel right now.
And last week we just read the first several verses sort of an introduction I just want to become familiar with the book that we're going to be spending a few weeks in not it's not going to be a really long series but the reason why I want to talk about Daniel and go look at some of these stories in the Book of Daniel is I'm hoping that we can use this book to sort of inspire our commitment to Jesus Christ this is why we exist as a church to develop committed followers of Jesus Christ of the teaching and encouraging of God's word so that is our true identity where followers of Jesus Christ and here in the Book of Daniel were introduced to Daniel and in Iowa Michele and Azariah and they were captured along with many other Jewish noble young men and they were transported from Jerusalem to Babylon and the king never can as or was trying to assimilate them into the Babylonian culture and what we see here in Chapter One is that these four young men remained committed to their true identity as God's. CHILDREN IN ISRAEL Well those who haven't let's let's read this first portion again so we can kind of just be familiar with what's going on so they know Chapter one beginning in verse one it says.
In the third year of the reign of joy Kim king of Juda never commands or king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and the siege did. And the Lord gave joy came king of Juda into his hand were some of the vessels of the law of the house of the God and he brought them to the land of Shine are to the house of his god in place the vessels in the treasury of his God Then the king commanded Ashton as the chief unit to bring some of the people of Israel both of the royal family and of the nobility use without blemish of good appearance and skilful in all wisdom in doubt with knowledge understanding and learning and competent to stand in the king's palace and to teach them the literature in language of the county ans the king assigned them a daily portion of food that the king ate and of the wine that he drank and they were to be educated for three years.
And at the end of that time they were to stand before the king and among those were DANIEL HANNAN Iowa Michele and Azariah of the tribe of Judah and the chief of the eunuchs gave them names Daniel he called Belshazzar head and I he called Shad rock Michel he called me shack and Azariah he called Abednego And so we read this and we realize that this assimilation process had just begun for these young men and you try to put yourself in their shoes and honestly if we're just being very honest I think these young men as they know that they are being captured in their being brought over to a new land this must have been somewhat of an honor for them they're thinking wait a second the King chose me you know he didn't destroy us but he chose me to be taught in the ways of the Caledonians and this is just it may have been for some of them sort of an ego boost. Yes You know the Babylonians were ultimately they were trying to change their identity I want to give you the meaning of the names of their Hebrew names and also their are their new Babylonian names I think it's really interesting Daniel the name Daniel means God is my judge and they gave him the name Delta Shaz R. which means Bel protect his life Bel being a Babylonian god had and I am meant the Lord shows grace and Shadrach meant the command of aku which was the moon god of the Babylonians missionary element who is like God you and me Shakra means who is as aku is and as Or I am meant the Lord is my help and the Bendigo ment servant of neighbor which is another Babylonian god and I don't I don't see many of you writing this down I wrote this down of course and if you compare the Hebrew name and the Babylonian name there very similar in what those names meant and what the Babylonians did is they basically replaced the God and kept the similar meaning and so what the Babylonians were trying to do with these young men is to change their identity to get them to think of themselves in a new way and so the king was trying to change them in every way they had a new land new customs new language new ideas new names new identity but what we see here in the next the next several verses that we read is that these four young men they stayed true to their identity as Israelites so let's read let's read eight through sixteen this is how they took a stand. In verse eight it says but Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food or with the wine that he drank therefore he asked the chief of the UNIX to allow him to not defile himself and God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the UNIX and the chief of the eunuch said to Daniel I fear my. I lord the king who assigned your food in your drink for why should he see that you are in worse condition than the use who are of your own age so you would endanger my head with the king then Daniel said to the servant to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel ten and I am a shy and Azariah test your servants for ten days let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink then let our appearance and the appearance of the use who eat at the king's food be observed by you and deal with your servants according to what you see so we listen to them in this matter and tested them for ten days and at the end of the ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the use who ate the king's food so the steward took away their food and the wine that they were to drink and gave them vegetables so here we have the beginning of Daniel and his three friends sort of taking their stand about their identity especially against the Babylonians the thing is Daniel and these three men they couldn't control the other factors in their life so I think that they could go back to Jerusalem they had no control over them actually being in Babylon but what they could do is they can remain committed to Jesus Christ or not Christ at that time but to God the Father and this is the way that they chose to do it you know it's interesting you read this and you try to picture what it was like for these young men not only Daniel and Shadrach Meshach and Abednego and and we don't know how many other young men were part of this but I think the food may have sort of been the icing on the cake for all of the noble young men to sort of adapt to the Babylonian culture you know are into college football I don't know if you all knew that I like keeping up with college football and I'm a really big fan of the the Michigan Wolverines and so they just had National Signing Day And so they're talking about all these recruits these college these high school recruits big. Recruited by all these big time schools and I read an article recently is really interesting they said that if a if a student athlete is looking at about three or four or five schools like really top in schools some time is the key to determining factor your laugh at this but the key determining factor in them choosing one school over the other is the all you can eat buffet that death school has and I'm serious they have no entire article on that and some schools are known for having better buffets then the other schools look like of a school is offering you all you can eat lobster and steak and shrimp a lot of these students will pick that school and it just goes to show your women you'll agree with this we men are very simple creatures. It's not it's not hard to influence us and what do they say the best way to a man's heart is what there is some I that's very that's very true you know Paul wrote something in the book of Philip by which you know we can look at we can laugh a little bit but it's so true in Philippians chapter three I'll go ahead read this for you he's warning the people in Philip about conforming to the ways of this world and he just simply says to them brothers join in imitating me and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us for many of whom I have often told you I now tell you even what years walk as enemies of the cross of Christ and he says this their end is destruction their god is their belly.
And their glory is in their shame with minds set on earthly things and so Paul are saying there are people walking around in the world and all they want to do is have the next piece of instant gratification and then he says in verse twenty but our citizenship is in heaven and from it we await our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ and suppose telling the people in Philip I don't forget who you are don't wrap your identity. In the things of this world and the little instant gratification that we can have and so this is what Daniel had and I Michelle and.
They were battling this and this is where Daniel drew the line in the sand they did it over food and why did he do this there's four options I was starting this and you know exactly what is going on why did Daniel say that he would defile himself with this food the king's food Well here's here's four options the first option was that the food that they were going to be served would be ceremonially unclean for those of you who are probably familiar with US and the Book of Leviticus that turn over there right now you're already in Daniel just turn over to Leviticus and you can read the majority of this on your own but Leviticus Chapter eleven God goes and tells the Israelites all the foods they can and cannot eat and so in Leviticus chapter. Eleven verse one talks about the things that they can eat and in the starts off by this I can read just the first couple verses in the last couple verses a Leviticus a lot.
But in a little Leviticus eleven verse one it says and the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron saying to them speak to the people of Israel saying these are the living things that you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth whatever parts the herf in his cloven foot and choose the cut among the animals you may eat and then he goes through an entire list of animals that he could not eat and different things and while he says these are these are these will defile you and then skip down to verse forty four and this is why God wants the Israelites to have a diet that makes them distinct from the rest of the nation's first forty four it says for I am the LORD your God to consecrate yourselves therefore and be holy for I am holy You shall not defile yourself with any swarming thing they crawls on the ground for I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God you shall therefore be holy for I am holy and so God is trying the. Israelites he's tying their diet to God's identity and Daniel took that very seriously and Daniel did not forget who he was so this is one of the reasons why Daniel may have decided to draw that line in the sand there a second is they may have feared that some of the food that was given to them by the king's table was very likely offered to an idol and obviously that was for bid on the third option and I don't know how much weight is in this but maybe Daniel and his three friends they just knew that a vegetarian diet was healthier then the diet of the Babylonians and so he thought well I want to be a vegan You know I want I want to see vegetables the truth is the veggie the vegetable diet is going to be much healthier than whatever they ate I know when I was a kid the first time I read the story I had this image in my mind that everyone else is eating you know hamburgers and steak and some good food and and Daniel has just a big bowl of broccoli and cauliflower in front of him and I think why would he do that that's just disgusting you know vegetables if you cook them the right way they can be absolutely delicious but that's probably not the main reason why Daniel said he wanted to eat only vegetables because it was healthier it was but another reason is probably just simply a combination of the first in the second option here Daniel and his friends were avoiding the diet of the king of Babylon because they were protecting themselves from being completely in ten inch enticed and really tempted by the entire culture of the Babylonians they knew that if they gave in with this area of their life they will probably going to give in with all the other areas you give a little bit here and it's not going to be able you're not going to be able to say you're going to stop Well the problem the Daniel is facing is that this decision that Daniel had would put the chief of the Unix in jeopardy and so God caused the chief to have favor and Daniel and. Daniel proposed a very simple test All right this is what we want to do we want to honor God and so just test us for ten days and again you know the first time I read this story I thought you know what is going on why just ten days and I wonder did Daniel suggest this I think God was giving him the wisdom to do this was there really going to be that much difference in Daniel and the young men and the other Babylonian young men and the other Jews in just ten days usually if someone goes on a diet how long does it take to really see a difference probably more than ten days and remember we're talking about teenagers here.
They're going to my so I'll talk about Caleb area because he's not in the service my son Caleb has the. The metabolism of a Ferrari he will eat more food than all of us and then an hour later he'll say they had I'm still hungry you know you want another pizza Kaleb you know he just even is just as thin as a rail and so these are teenagers and so how was it that only after ten days they looked better part of it obviously was the fact that they're eating healthier but I think we need to not discount the fact that there is a there's a miracle going on here that God is honoring their commitment they were eating healthier but God wanted to bless them they made this commitment and this is also for the sake I think of the chief of Unix to show him that these were special young men well this is what happened for seventeen. As for these four youths God gave them learning and skill in the literature and wisdom and Daniel had understanding all the genes and dreams and at the end of the time when the king in command of that they should be brought in the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before you have a king those are and the King spoke with them and among all of them numberless found like Daniel had and I am mistrial and Azariah therefore they served for the king and in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them he found them ten times better than all. All the magicians and the chanters that were in all his kingdom and Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus and survey in your head and I'm Michelle and I was right they made this commitment to God regarding their Sure identity and God On heard their commitment they were true to who they really were and God honored it and you know we read this story and we'll never be in an exactly similar situation hopefully Canada hopefully won't it won't invade us that we won't be living in Edmonton for the rest of our lives but you know things could be worse but we have small tests all throughout our lives where we are deciding are we going to stay committed to our true identity as a follower of Jesus Christ or am I going to give in on this little issue and so what I want to do is I want to give you three lessons that we can learn about the commitment that we see Daniel had and I as a rare and Michelle making and the first lesson that we can learn this kind of application for all of us is this that commitments it starts with small stuff when you make a commitment to the Lord. About your true identity in who Jesus Christ is start with the small things you know when we talk about being committed to Jesus Christ some people will think Wow I'm going to be committed you know what that means I need to sell my possessions and I need to move to a foreign land you know that's that's what a committed Christian is and and of course that is a great commitment but someone who sells all their possessions and they move to become a missionary to a foreign land their commitment didn't start there it started with the very small things in their life and so when we're talking about being committed to Christ it starts with the very small things you know Romans twelve tells us exactly where the commitments begin our commitment to Christ begins in our mind in the Romans Chapter twelve verse two it says Do not be conformed to this world. But be transformed by the renewal of your mind that by the testing you may discern what is the. Well of God what is good and acceptable and perfect and I grew up memorizing this in the end I like how the N.I.V. says Do not conform to the pattern of this world. How do you read it with that phrase and it's more of a dynamic translation of the Greek and it kind of gives us understanding this true understanding that the world has a pattern in it's trying to conform us to that pattern the Babylonians had a pattern a way of thinking and acting and they were trying to conform the Jewish young men to that pattern Satan is influencing the world around us he's trying to conform us to this pattern and it takes a determined mind to recognize that there's a pattern of the world and for us to not conform to it you know Daniel recognized that some people as something as simple and as innocent as even the king's food would just be one more step in the process of conforming to be like the Babylonians and so they chose this very small thing to take their stand you not a friend of mine tell me you know this phrase and it's a really good phrase a. I think it applies to many things in our life it goes like this it's always easier to not start then it is to stop.
With so many things in life with a sweet little little commitment or a compromise it's so much easier to never start something it is a stop and using food as an example how many of you would testify it's easier to not take that first bite of chocolate cake than it is the tent right you take the first bite you I already had to buy I just I just need the whole thing well that's how compromises take place in our life you know as as a reading this and as you're looking at this I hope maybe God might be bringing something to your mind maybe a commitment that you need to take it may be a compromise that you're you're so easily giving up on well that's one of the first lessons that we learned about commitments the second lesson is this. A small stand makes a big statement. A small stand makes a big statement you know you just look at the difference that these four young men their commitment made it earn them the respect of the chief of the Unix I mean he had their eye his eye on them for the rest of their time in Babylon and for the rest of his life he knew there was something special about them and you know honestly if Daniel and Michelle and Hunter and I and I was right if they wouldn't have committed themselves to this you know we would not have we wouldn't have the Book of Daniel God would have accomplished what he was going to call this but he would have used someone else to do this you know this kind of reminds me of a test that I had years ago and this is probably tested many of you can relate to. I have a U.P.S. story for you I'll pull these out every now and then I know you really like you when I talk about U.P.S. but after I graduated from grace part of college with my bachelor in theology I was a licensed minister but I didn't have a church yet and so I got the world's greatest summer job I worked at U.P.S. and what they did is they trained us they conformed us to the pattern of the U.P.S. thinking for for two weeks I went through this training and and part of that it was they'd send us out on the trucks and we learned how to deliver the packages and they did this three different times and I remember all three of them they went very similar but I'm going to share one in particular I was I was riding around with a man named Roger Mayweather and this is in Grand Rapids some of you are thinking Mayweather Yes he was actually the cousin of Floyd Mayweather Jr The Boxer I mean he's I have no reason to doubt him the fact that he was Chinese is irrelevant no I'm just getting to know and he was so he was the cousin of Floyd Mayweather Jr and he like the other guys you know what he did I think he was trying to impress me and trying to you know at kind of tough and so guess what he did the whole day he swore I think he made a new swear words and he's he was looking for reasons to swear and to use crass humor and and the whole time I'm not joining in with him. And this is all three of these experiences when the same way and halfway through the afternoon he's you know why is this guy not swearing and why is he not joking around like me and so he goes won't tell me about yourself you know you you know how did you start working at U.P.S. Well it's actually just a summer job I just graduated from college and waiting for a real job and so I'm just doing this all we have word you graduate from college Grace Bible college what did you study there a grace problem theology or what do you do with a degree like that well I'm actually a pastor waiting for my first church is a great P.T. the bell horrible and it was so funny the other guys were like this but but he was more so immediately his entire demeanor changed and he started talking to me about the church that he and his wife were into. And the things that he you know I should start going more often and I you know this I know it's important and in that moment in that day he completely changed I didn't change at all I didn't I didn't do anything that was the point but it changed his perspective and a small stand that I talk I'm just not going to swear I'm not going to talk like that it made a big difference in his life at least at least for that day it made a difference I don't know what happened after that you know in Philippians to read this last week but it says do all things without grumbling or disputing that you may be blameless and innocent children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation among whom you shine as lights in the world the way that we do that the way that we make these small commitments is we commit to the small things it's not the big things that are going to make the biggest difference it's always making those small commitments first so a small stand will make a big statement and the last lesson that we learn is that our commit to Christ benefits more people if you make your commitment to Jesus Christ you will definitely benefit from a. But more people will benefit from it as well notice the concern that Daniel showed for the chief of the Unix I think this is really worth focusing on in mentioning he didn't force this because he knew that this would put the chief of the Unix in a really difficult situation and he also didn't protest he didn't say I am an Israelite I will not eat that food would the world right now is just obsessed with protesting aren't they right now they want to protest every day if I can't get my way I'm just going to I'm going to loot and I'm going to robbing in a burned down Starbucks and I don't I don't know what's going on with the world but usually when we protest what happens is any division that we have between two people it gets bigger it doesn't unify and so Daniel what he did is he really considered the chief of the UNIX he didn't protest he said I would like to put us both in a win win situation this is important to me and I'll let you be the one to decide and so Daniel was honored by God and God blessed him and he also blessed I think the chief of the Unix when you look at the story and we look at the Bible we have to understand that if the gospel is true it's good for everyone.
And if you live according to the gospel and you put it into practice everyone benefits from it whether they believe it or not and so Daniel's humble commitment benefited not only Daniel and his three friends but also everyone around him in the coming chapters we're going to see how the Babylonians benefited from this as well well I hope everyone here can call yourself a child of God that this is your true identity and that you take your seriously and if you're a true right identity is found in Jesus Christ that you don't conform yourself to the pattern of this world and as you will find different areas of your life where you say you know what I. Need to take a stand right here so what I want to do is as we're closing I want you to to think about this. And maybe throughout this sermon you're thinking. OK My issue isn't food but it's among my coworkers or among my family members this is a commitment that I need to make and so I want to encourage you if God is bringing something to your mind where you're compromising maybe your true identity that you will either stop doing something that you are doing or start doing something that you might not be doing and really take hold of your choice and God will bless you you know Daniel and I am Michelle and Azariah they were committed to God and God used them in a powerful way and I believe that when we stay committed to Jesus Christ he will use us to was close in prayer dear that I thank you for the story.
In for us as we are reading this it might seem like a trivial matter the Daniel and in the three young men decided to hit here to the Jewish dietary laws but Lord it was a small thing that they had control over and they went about it the right way and we see the wisdom in it and so Lord I pray that we will be able to apply this to our lives where we're applicable or our true identity is not found in this world and in this life it's found in us being a child of God and our citizenship is in heaven and so Father I pray for us that as we desire to be lights to the world around us in this wicked in cricket generation that we will make these small commitments in our life when we become aware of them so that we might be your servants like these four young men were thank you for their courage Lord and made inspire us to do likewise we presume pricing in. Now May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ love of God the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit to be with you all meant.