Let’s wrap up our series called “The Daniel Dilemma”. It turns out, we currently face the same dilemma a man named Daniel faced more than 2,600 years ago.
Daniel was Jewish which means he belonged to the people of God. Back then, Jewish people were the only ones who had access to God. But thanks to Jesus, now all of us have been adopted into the family of God.
Since Daniel was Jewish, you’d assume that he was just surrounded by people who were godly people and obeyed all the scriptures. Unfortunately, at this time in history, Jewish culture was drifting from the truth. I’d imagine it looked similar to what we see right now in America.
But Daniel was one of the few that didn’t give in to culture. He continued to live a righteous life even when a majority of Jewish people were drifting into the ways of the world instead of the ways of God.
Because everyone was drifting, things didn’t turn out so well for the Israelites. They were captured by King Nebuchadnezzar and taken to Babylon to serve him and his kingdom.
We kicked off the series talking about how culture has a mission to strip away your God-given identity by compromising your standards. This puts us in a place of confrontation that honestly, most of us struggle with.
We either get upset and start spewing truth out of our mouths like a toxic substance. Or we take the backseat and start advocating for sin without realizing what we are doing.
The thing is, we need compassion and truth working together. We need to confront these issues, but from a motivation of love.
Then in part two we learned how to recognize when culture is trying to trap us into their belief system. Because every ounce of ungodly behavior is rooted in one thing: when we elevate ourselves.
It starts by elevating yourself above others. Maybe you elevate your race, or your education, or your measure of success. It even goes so far as to elevate yourself above God.
Most think they would never do this. But, the truth is, any time you choose to follow your own way instead of following what is in the Word of God, you are elevating yourself above God.
This was probably the toughest message of this series, but if you humble yourself and allow the Word of God to renew your mind, it’s the message that will bring you the most freedom.
We followed that tough message with a message about love which was nice and refreshing, and also the most important thing we do. God has made it clear, without love, our life will just be a bunch of unneeded noise.
Last week, one of our small group leaders, Simon Ratcliff, gave us some tips on how to stand firm in our beliefs. It can be a bit scary to take a stand when the truth is always being criticized. But you don’t have to fear.
When you stake a stand, the Lord Jesus Christ stands with you. He protects you. He gives you courage. So get out there and take a stand because you don’t have anything to worry about.
Now that we know how to take a stand in love, I want to wrap up this series today on how we can all stay united in the midst of all this division.
We live in a season where the devil is going all out on creating division. People are divided over their opinion about President Trump. Racism is being fueled by the media. Heck, we’re even divided over the whole mask issue.
I wouldn’t be surprised to find out about a church split happening because one side believes that masks are the savior of the universe while the other side believes they are the mark of the beast. Seriously, this is crazy times.
But we don’t have to take part in any of this. We can choose to maintain unity. In doing so, we are being obedient to the Word of God. Let me show you:
Ephesians 4:3-6 NLT – Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.
Aren’t you glad you only have to put in a little bit of effort to maintain unity? No. Make EVERY effort to maintain unity with your fellow believers. Y’all, this is going to take some work.
Is shaming people over a mask making every effort to maintain unity? How about getting upset with someone who is a Trump supporter? Or not a Trump supporter?
Just trying to make this practical for you guys. Let’s get reading:
Ephesians 4:3-6 NLT – For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.
One, one, one, one, one. Apparently there’s something important about becoming one. Yet there is not a whole lot of oneness going on these days.
Keep in mind, this scripture was not written to the world. It was written to the church. Here at church we set the example for the world by becoming one with each other.
This doesn’t mean we all have to agree on the mask issue, or who the president should be, or if patriotism is a good thing or a bad thing. Believe it or not, we can maintain unity even when we disagree about such issues.
But there are some things we do to agree on and I’m going to tell you what those are here in a bit. Before I do that, let me show you how important oneness is to Jesus:
John 17:20-23 NLT – “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
Are you getting this? Our unity as the body of Christ is what will lead the world to Jesus.
We get caught up in trying to figure out how to witness to the world. We think we aren’t doing enough outreach, or don’t have enough faith, or whatever.
At the same time we have people in the church upset with others over a mask, or a Facebook post, or something that they heard that may or may not be true. And then we wonder why our outreach isn’t working.
It’s unity in the church that leads people to Jesus.
We must make every effort to remain united.
Let’s see what Jesus says next:
John 17:20-23 NLT – “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”
This is as clear as day. Without unity, we won’t be leading anyone to Jesus. But if we all protect unity by choosing peace, believing the best, not being easily offended, then we become a church that causes the world to know Jesus.
But let me remind you, this doesn’t mean we are going to agree about everything. I’m going to be voting for Trump on November 2nd, but you might not. And I don’t have to let that cause division between us.
I don’t wear a mask. But I also feel no need to convince you to do the same. We can remain in unity whether we are wearing masks or not.
Early in our marriage, Beth and I had some pretty intense disagreements. We still have disagreements now, thirteen years later, they are just not as intense as they used to be.
I remember getting so upset about Beth leaving her clothes on the floor. I wanted a tidy space and she didn’t seem to care. So I would destroy unity over a pile of clothes on the floor.
There’s also a certain way that dishes go in the sink. You rinse them off on the side with the garbage disposal. And if you are not going to put them in the dishwasher, you put them on the other side of the sink while keeping the side with the garbage disposal completely empty for future use.
Beth disagrees. She likes dishes on both sides of the sink. And early in our marriage, I would destroy unity over a plate in the sink.
Guess what y’all? She still has a pile of clothes on her side of the bed. She still leaves dishes on the wrong side of the sink. But let me tell you what is different. I choose to maintain unity despite these differences.
If the clothes are bothering me, I pick them up and take care of them while chuckling about how big the pile had gotten. I pick up that plate and move it to the other side of the sink with a smile.
Perfect unity. That’s what we are after at NoLimits Church. We’re not creating a cult where we all agree on everything. But we do agree on the most important things.
One God. One body of Christ. One Spirit. One hope. One Lord. One faith.
We can break this down into three main things that we all need to agree on in order to maintain unity here at church. And when we unite on these matters, our oneness will lead the world to Jesus.
Here’s the first one:
1. One Enemy
A lot of different groups have formed. There are many issues in culture today that we are dealing with. But behind them all is one enemy.
John 10:10 NLT – The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy…
We have one enemy, he is a thief, and he is after three things: to steal, kill and destroy. One enemy. It’s not a person. It’s not an issue. It’s the devil.
And if you’re like me, you’ve had a hard time with this one lately. I’ve seen some posts on Facebook that made me think one of my friends was really the enemy. Or that politician. Or that business.
Over and over again, I’ve had to remind myself:
Ephesians 6:12 NLT – For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies,
We aren’t fighting against people. We’re not fighting against democrats or republicans or Nancy Pelosi.
But if we’re not fighting against people, who are we fighting against?
Ephesians 6:12 NLT – but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Something I want you to realize is there is still a fight! We’ve just been fighting against the wrong thing. We’ve been arguing with people when we should be fighting the spiritual battle with prayer and worship.
Y’all, you are not going to argue with someone and change their mind. Because the battle isn’t with people. Take the battle to the spiritual realm.
When you see one of your friends deceived, don’t argue with them. Pray for them. The prayers of the righteous produce wonderful results.
James 5:16 MSG – Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.
I think we could probably all give a little boost to our prayer life.
We have to get to a point where we can look at someone who supports abortion and not get upset with them but to recognize they are being deceived and that this battle will only be won through prayer.
But if you hate them as a person, your prayer won’t be effective. That’s why the enemy works overtime to get you to hate people.
Don’t hate people, hate the deception, and fight the battle in the spiritual realm.
2 Corinthians 10:3-4 NLT – We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.
We need to be united on this. We’re not fighting against people, but we are in a fight. We have one enemy and we are going to win. So fight with courage using God’s mighty weapons, also known as the Word of God.
You don’t throw the Word at people, you share it with people. And you also have to be intentional about using the Word of God in prayer to defeat the enemy and free people from deception.
Here’s the next way we all get united:
2. One Heart
We may not agree on the style of music we should sing on Sundays, or how loud it should be. We may not agree on the temperature we keep the room during our services. But we all care about others. We want to help them know God, find freedom, and discover purpose.
Acts 4:32 NLT – All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.
Becoming one in heart is a bit of an intangible idea, so let me give you three practical things we can do to become one in heart:
Learn from others.
When the racial tensions came in full force earlier this year, I was taken by surprise. I honestly didn’t know racism was still a thing. It’s not an issue in my mind. I don’t hang around people who are racist.
Because of this, I didn’t understand what the issue was. It was tempting to just write it off as nothing, as something that was blown out of proportion, but I saw so many of my friends hurting that I realized there was something I didn’t know.
I knew I wouldn’t get understanding from one of my white friends, so I called up three of my black friends and asked them to help me understand. I didn’t push any of my viewpoints on them, I was calling them to listen and learn.
And I learned. They helped me see the issues through their own experiences and that was eye opening. I also learned that racist people still exist even right here in Owasso.
When we don’t understand what someone else is going through, we tend to get upset by things that they say or do. In other words, it destroys unity when we don’t take time to understand. That’s why we are given this instruction:
James 1:19 NLT – …You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
There’s been a lot of fast speaking lately. And honestly, they want you to speak fast. You get fussed at if you don’t speak fast enough. But let me tell you, I am not going to speak fast. Because I have some listening to do first.
We should all be quick to listen. Quick to gain understanding. And slow to speak. These things are key to not getting angry at others for things you don’t understand.
Here’s the next way we become one in heart:
Empathize with others.
If you want to become one with others in heart, you have to feel what others feel. Hurt when they hurt. Rejoice when they rejoice.
The only way to do this is to invest time in relationships. Because when you really get to know someone by spending time with them, you feel their pain. You understand what they are going through.
That’s why we read this in Galatians:
Galatians 6:2 NLT – Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
If we want to have unity, we can’t just walk around numb to what is going on in the lives of those around us. We have to truly care. And we care because we took time to build relationships. The best way to do that is in small groups.
If you have yet to go all-in during a small group semester, you should give it a shot when the next one kicks off here in a couple of weeks. I know it can be tough to add things to your schedule, but small groups are worth it.
Here’s one more practical way to become one in heart:
We talked about this in detail a few weeks ago, but we will never become one in heart if we don’t love each other the way the Bible shows us to love in 1 Corinthians 13. Let’s look at just one verse from that chapter:
1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT – Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Remember this the next time someone has a political viewpoint different than you. You don’t give up on them. You don’t lose faith. You remain hopeful and because of this, the relationship will endure every circumstance.
Y’all we need to learn to love people we don’t agree with. We need to learn to choose joy when around those that rub us the wrong way.
Let’s learn from each other, empathize with each other, and love each other. That is how we become one in heart. Now let me give you the last area we all need to be united in:
3. One Purpose
For unity to exist here at church, we all have to be after the same thing. And that’s easy because we all have the same purpose. God put us here in this time, in this place, to make an eternal difference in the lives of others.
We’re here to help people get closer to God, find freedom from their past, and discover the unique gifts and callings God has placed on the inside of them. It’s that simple. We’re here for others. We’re here to make a difference.
Ephesians 2:10 MSG – He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.
We all have a specific assignment from God. Your gifts and callings are unique to you and everyone around you needs you to discover your gifts, develop them and use them to make an eternal difference in the lives of others.
We all have a different assignment, but we are working towards the same goal: to lead people to Jesus. That’s our purpose.
For far too long we’ve believed that the only one’s fulfilling their God-given purpose are those leading in the church. But Jesus told us to go into ALL the world and preach the gospel.
This means that some of you are called to serve in government and spread the Gospel while you are there. Some of you are called to business, or education, or media. God wants His people in every area of influence because that’s how we give Him the nations.
Matthew 28:19 NLT – “Go and make disciples of all the nations…”
Oh, you mean God cares about the nations? He wants the United States of America to be His disciple? He wants us to be the one’s leading our nation by taking an active role in government and business and education?
Eye opening, isn’t it? All this time we’ve been thinking too small.
This is why, when you’re at work, your purpose is to help your coworkers get closer to God. When you’re playing sports, your purpose is to help your teammates get closer to God.
In every area of our lives we have one purpose, to make an eternal difference in the lives of others. And when we all unite on this purpose and walk it out, not just on Sundays, but every day of the week, we can make a disciple of our nation.
Let’s wrap this up with three simple things you can take with you today and apply to your life. Here’s the first one:
I will pray instead of argue.
The battle is not against people, it is against our one enemy, the devil. We fight knowing we are victorious in Jesus. So we don’t fear, we don’t fret, we don’t cower down. We stand up in prayer and defeat the enemy.
I will seek to understand.
Instead of accusing and assuming, we believe that best while we seek to understand. And when we don’t agree, we choose to maintain peace.
We protect each other. We trust each other. We never give up on each other.
I will develop my purpose.
We’re in this together. So we are diligent about discovering and developing our gifts and callings so they can be used together for God to accomplish infinitely more than we could ever imagine.
Are you ready to give your heart to Jesus? Let’s not let another moment go by. It’s time to go all in.
Jesus died for you. Everything that He suffered through leading up to His death was so that you can live free from regret, free from sickness, and be completely delivered from your tendency to make destructive decisions.
Only the power of Jesus can free you from your sin and He wants to do that right now. And all you have to do is believe that He can do it. Step out in faith right now and say, “Yes, Jesus. I believe.”
Salvation Next Step
If you just prayed that prayer, we want to support you along the journey that’s ahead. But we can’t support you if we don’t know. So we set up an easy way for you to tell us. Simply text the word Jesus to 918-373-9883.
We’re not going to bug you. We’re not going to spam you. We are just going to help guide you through your next step. We’re here for you. So please, go ahead and send that text.