We’re continuing a series called Truth or Dare. You probably remember playing the game as a kid. As adults, we are still faced with this dilemma called Truth or Dare.
We live in a culture that is falling further and further away from God and we’re faced with this tension of deciding which way we are going to go.
Are we going to dare to live our lives like the world? Or are we going to face the truth of God’s Word?
In the game, there were usually negative consequences regardless of what you choose, truth or dare. You either had to reveal something you didn’t want people to know, or you had to do something that had a negative consequence.
But in the context of your spiritual journey, there’s an obvious best choice. Come clean about your secrets with God and you are going to find freedom. Dare to live like the world and you’ll find yourself drifting further and further from God.
This entire series is based on the book of Daniel because Daniel lived in a time where the nation of Israel, the people who are known as God’s people, rejected God and were paying the price for it.
But, Daniel took a stand for truth in the midst of all the compromise.
As you probably know, history tends to repeat itself. So, what we see in Daniel, even though it happened years ago, can be paralleled to what we are seeing today. And we all need to find out how to live like Daniel.
In week one, we talked about how grace and truth go together. Yet, we tend to think you have to choose one or the other.
If you choose truth, you have to be passionate about telling people when they’re wrong. Or, if you choose grace, you have to refrain from telling people when they’re headed in the wrong direction.
Neither of these is right. Actually, we need them both working together. We need to be generous with grace while standing firm in the truth we find in God’s Word.
And then last week, I uncovered the devil’s biggest secret. Every ounce of ungodly behavior is rooted in this one thing. Every one of the devil’s lies spawn from this one thing:
The enemy’s one and only trick is to get you to elevate yourself above God. He did it to Adam and Eve by telling them they would be smart like God if they ate the fruit. And he does the same thing today by getting us to think our way is better than God’s way.
That’s why you hear things like “my body, my choice” as an excuse to kill a baby. That’s why it’s called the Pride movement, because we are elevating our ungodly choices above the Word of God.
So now that you know the devil’s biggest secret, it will be easy for you to recognize when he is trying to mislead you. And here’s what you do instead:
Proclaim that everything God says and does is right and just. Stand on the Word of God as ultimate truth and don’t try to argue that your way is better.
Because when you elevate God, He elevates you.
Today we are going to talk about standing. Because you can’t go very far in your Bible before you get an instruction like, “Take a stand. Stand firm.” Take a look at this verse:
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NLT – Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.
Here we have it again, just like we learned in week one of this series: Stand firm in your faith, and while you’re at it, do everything in love.
You don’t have to give up love to stand firm. You don’t have to be hateful to stand firm. No, you can stand firm and love well at the same time.
And if there is a story in the book of Daniel that illustrates this the best, is the story of the fiery furnace. This is one of those popular stories that you hear about in kids ministry.
Actually, our kindergarten through 5th grade class just learned this story a few months ago. And when our drummer’s son retells this story, it starts out like this:
“That fire was so lit that it slayed anyone who even came close.”
You gotta love how kids have their own language. Now let’s take a look at the story in Daniel Chapter 3:
Daniel 3:1-7 NLT – King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue ninety feet tall and nine feet wide and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Then he sent messages to the high officers, officials, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the provincial officials to come to the dedication of the statue he had set up. So all these officials came and stood before the statue King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then a herald shouted out, “People of all races and nations and languages, listen to the king’s command!
Culture always makes it seem like you don’t have a choice. They command us to follow their ways. They tell us that their way is what’s best for humanity. Because, as you now know, culture is all about elevating self.
What’s interesting is that culture will never tell you not to follow God. No, they will just flatter you so that you follow them. And in the process, you disregard God’s way without even realizing it.
Daniel 3:1-7 NLT – When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other musical instruments, bow to the ground to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue.
Notice how the command here is to worship a gold statue of a man. I’m telling you, every trick of the devil always comes back to one thing: when you elevate self instead of elevating God.
Daniel 3:1-7 NLT – Anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace. So at the sound of the musical instruments, all the people, whatever their race or nation or language, bowed to the ground and worshiped the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
Just like we see in our world today, here you have the masses following a stupid rule, a ridiculous idea that culture commanded them to do. But there are always those few who don’t fall for it.
These are the people that bug the heck out of all you rule-followers out there. You know, the people who use up every last bit of that left hand lane on Highway 169 that ends before you get into Owasso.
Daniel 3:12 NLT – But there are some Jews—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—whom you have put in charge of the province of Babylon. They pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They refuse to serve your gods and do not worship the gold statue you have set up.
This is going to be hard for my rule-followers to accept, but there are times where rules should be broken. We’re talking about every rule culture creates that goes against the Word of God.
Now, for all my people who don’t like to follow rules, this is not an excuse for you to disregard the speed limit or not pay your taxes. Just thought I should put that out there.
But, just like culture does today whenever we go against one of their stupid rules, like the command to support abortion, Babylon responded the same way:
Daniel 3:13-15 NLT – Then Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought before him. When they were brought in, Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?”
This is the exact reaction culture has when we take a stand for the Word of God. They fly into rage and call us names and give us what seems to be an ultimatum, “I’ll give you one more chance, and if you don’t do what I say…”
We’ve all felt this pressure many times in our lives. For all you ladies out there, maybe there was a time when you were out on a date and felt pressured to do something you didn’t want to do.
Or, for you men, maybe there was a time where the other guys were watching something that was never meant to go before your eyes and everything within you wanted to walk away. But you felt the pressure to fit in.
The devil is really friendly when you are following culture. But, as soon as you take a stand for something else, he throws a fit and gets in your face and tries to scare the heck out of you.
But when you stick it out and keep standing firm, you find out that the devil is just this noisy little puppy. You know, like the Chihuahua that thinks he’s a big dog.
I John 4:4 NKJV – He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
That’s the truth right there. You don’t have to fear culture. Yes, it is loud and hateful and sounds mean. But turns out, it has no power over you because God has made His home in you!
Today, I want to prepare you to stand. No longer are you going to be intimidated by culture, because after today, you are going to know how to stand firm. And here’s the first thing you need to know:
Standing firm takes courage.
We’re not talking about the person who is not afraid of anything. No, we’re talking about someone who probably still feels those fears but chooses not to bow down to them.
Daniel 3:16 TLB – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not worried about what will happen to us.”
You know, I bet these guys had a moment of, “Oh crap, he’s going to throw us in a furnace.” But they chose to disregard this fear and something rose up on the inside of them.
You really don’t see this quality much in Christians today. We’ve gotten into the habit of bowing down to fear instead putting on courage. But, like I said earlier:
Courage isn’t the absence of fear. Courage is standing firm in spite of my fear.
It’s when you decide, “Alright, I’m just going to do it,” even when your heart is pounding and your mind is racing.
And when you decide to step into courage, something powerful happens. When you choose to say no to fear, God is able to step in and do what only He can do through you.
Here’s the next thing you need to know about taking a stand:
Standing firm takes faith.
You have to believe that God is on your side. You need faith in the fact that God will keep you safe and be with you always. You need to be sure of the fact that God loves you and will never leave you.
Daniel 3:17-18 TLB – If we are thrown into the flaming furnace, our God is able to deliver us; and he will deliver us out of your hand, Your Majesty. But if he doesn’t, please understand, sir, that even then we will never under any circumstance serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have erected.
These guys had faith that no matter how this went down, God was for them and would choose the best outcome.
Because when you are a Christian, you’re in a win-win situation. Die for your faith and you get to go be with God. Live for your faith and you get to take other people with you.
We get so confused when Christians die before their time as if God wasn’t looking out for them. But, when we have faith in God, we trust that even when we don’t understand, He knew what He was doing.
So, what’s better? For someone to be healed or for them to go to heaven? The answer is “yes”. We have no place to question what God does or doesn’t do, we simply need to trust that what He does is right and just and true.
And when you take this stance, when you believe that you are in a win-win situation, nobody can touch you! I mean, you kill me, and I get to go be with Jesus. You let me live, and I get to keep impacting the world for Jesus. Ha!
Take a look at how this story ended up:
Daniel 3:19-25 MSG – Nebuchadnezzar, his face purple with anger, cut off Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace fired up seven times hotter than usual. He ordered some strong men from the army to tie them up, hands and feet, and throw them into the roaring furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, bound hand and foot, fully dressed from head to toe, were pitched into the roaring fire. Because the king was in such a hurry and the furnace was so hot, flames from the furnace killed the men who carried Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to it, while the fire raged around Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Suddenly King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm and said, “Didn’t we throw three men, bound hand and foot, into the fire?” “That’s right, O king,” they said. “But look!” he said. “I see four men, walking around freely in the fire, completely unharmed! And the fourth man looks like a son of the gods!”
Come on now, this is good stuff right here! Because of the courage and faith displayed by these three guys, Jesus came to hang out in the furnace with them. And take a look at what happens next:
Daniel 3:26-27 MSG – Nebuchadnezzar went to the door of the roaring furnace and called in, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the High God, come out here!” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out of the fire. All the important people, the government leaders and king’s counselors, gathered around to examine them and discovered that the fire hadn’t so much as touched the three men—not a hair singed, not a scorch mark on their clothes, not even the smell of fire on them!
There it is right there! You can be in culture with their fire raging all around you and then step out completely untouched.
We don’t have to barricade the doors of the church to keep the world out. We’re not here to create a safe place for mature Christians to come and separate themselves from the world.
No, we need to get out in the world with courage and faith and take a stand for the Word of God. And while we’re taking a stand, we need to bleed love.
Because the only right motivation for sharing truth is because you love someone too much to watch them live a lie. We’re going to talk more about that next week.
Here’s the last thing I want you to know about taking a stand:
Standing firm inspires others.
You think they are going to hate you for it, but they are actually going to love you for it.
As a pastor, it’s really quite a phenomenon. There’s a lot of pressure to skirt around all the “hot topics” and deliver a message that is safe and won’t offend anyone. But that’s actually not what people want at all.
You’re looking for a leader who lay it out there and tell you when culture is going against the Word of God. You don’t want me to fluff it up and make it pretty. You want me to take a stand and give you the truth in a way that’s easy to understand.
You admire people who take a stand. And I admire people who take a stand. So, why do we believe that we are going to be standing all by ourselves? Because the truth is, when you take a stand, you’ll inspire others to stand with you.
Let’s look at what happened with these three guys in the Bible:
Daniel 3:28-30 MSG – Nebuchadnezzar said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel and rescued his servants who trusted in him! They ignored the king’s orders and laid their bodies on the line rather than serve or worship any god but their own. Therefore I issue this decree: Anyone anywhere, of any race, color, or creed, who says anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be ripped to pieces, limb from limb, and their houses torn down. There has never been a god who can pull off a rescue like this.” Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
The very person they were standing against, Nebuchadnezar, ended up being inspired by the fact that they took a stand and ended up taking a stand against his own decree and made up a new one for people to serve God.
So, there you go. Even the most unexpecting people will be inspired when you take a stand. Go ahead and throw out that lie that people will hate you for taking a stand, because now you know, they’re going to love you for it.
At this point, you are going to be tempted to focus on what you are standing against. But resist the urge. Instead, let’s focus on what we stand for.
Just like the three guys we just read about, they wouldn’t bow down to the statue because they were standing for God. They didn’t spend their energy standing against the statue. No, they focused on standing for God.
So I want to give you three things that you can stand for.
Stand in prayer.
This is kind of funny to say, but I think we’ve over-spiritualized prayer. We turn it into this thing that has to be done for a certain amount of time every day or it doesn’t count. We think we have to use the right words or it doesn’t count.
But prayer is not a religious exercise, it’s a conversation with God. And that’s why it can’t be quiet. Can you imagine sitting in a room with someone and they just sat there expecting you to read their mind?
That’s what we do to God. We say things like, “This is my quiet time. Plus, God knows my heart so I don’t need to say anything.”
But can I propose to you that prayer comes alive when you pray out loud? Put some personality in your prayer. Talk to God like He’s in the room with you, because He is.
Prayer is not a passive activity. No, it’s like going to battle. Almost every prayer you read in the Bible was full of passion and courage. And that’s why the Bible says this:
Ephesians 6:11-14 NLT – Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil … Put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground…
Does this sound like someone who goes into prayer with, “God, you don’t have to, but if you can, please take care of my needs…”
No! This scripture describes someone who is confident in who God is and who they are to God. They know that God’s listening so they enter into prayer with boldness and take a stand for what they believe.
Some of y’all need to upgrade your prayer life. You’ve been too passive and it’s time to take a stand.
If that’s you, I want you to take a Pray First book home today. They are out in the lobby. And what I want you to do is to open to the Lord’s prayer and pray these prayers out loud with boldness.
It might feel strange at first, but you are going to be fired up by the end of it and wondering why you haven’t been praying this way all along.
Here’s the second thing for you to stand for:
Stand for my purpose.
The reason I bring this up is because all of hell is going to try to get you distracted from what God has put you on the earth to do. And these distractions often show up as harmless activities, like sports or a higher-paying job.
Then you get stuck in the idea that you’re not good enough to make a difference in the world anyways, so why even try?
I’m telling you, the enemy is going to do everything he can to keep you from your purpose, and that’s why you have to be intentional about taking a stand and guarding your purpose from all distractions.
And you may be sitting there thinking, “Kade, I get what your saying. But I don’t even have a purpose to stand for. I don’t know what I’m here to do.”
First of all, know that you are not the only one that feels this way. Actually, every person in this room has struggled to find their purpose at one point or another. Many are right there with you right now.
That’s why I am so excited to kick off Growth Track next month. Growth Track is a four-step guide for you to discover your purpose. In other words, by the end of Growth Track your going to know why you are here.
Here’s how it’s going to work. Every Sunday after church, Growth Track will take place from 12:30-1:30pm. And here’s the best news: we are going to feed you lunch.
stepONE of the Growth Track takes place the first Sunday of every month, stepTWO on second Sundays, and so on. You only need to go through each step once, but if you have to complete them in different months, that’s perfectly fine.
It all kicks off the first Sunday in October. So, if you’re struggling to find your purpose, hang tight because it’s just around the corner.
And here’s why we need to find our purpose and stand for it:
1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV – Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
There’s been so many things that tried to pull me away from what God has called me to do. Actually, you’d probably be disappointed if I shared them all with you because you probably think it’s never a struggle for me.
But the only reason I’m still here today is because I realize that all of hell wants me to disregard my God-given purpose and I’m not giving in. I’ve made a choice to stand for my purpose and you should too.
Here’s the third and most important thing to stand for:
Stand for God.
This may seem obvious, but take a moment to really think about this. Why should we stand for God? Well, because He stood for us.
All we did was come against God and followed our own way. And still, God took a stand for us by sending His one and only son, Jesus, so that our sins could be forgiven and we could step into a close relationship with God.
He didn’t do it because we earned it. God took a stand for our lives because He loves us. And one of the best ways we can respond is to take a stand for Him.
God is my father. Anything in me that is good is because of Jesus. I didn’t do it. I couldn’t do it. God pulled me out of my mess and gave me a new life by sending His son Jesus to die for my sins.
God also gave me His Word. He gave it to me as a guide into my best life, the one He created me to live. So I don’t question the Bible. I believe that everything in there is true and right and just.
Don’t hide the fact that you’re a Christian who was saved by Jesus. Don’t hide the fact that you live your life according to the Word of God. No, take a stand for God. Be bold and confident in what you know to be true.
Matthew 10:32-33 MSG – “Stand up for me against world opinion and I’ll stand up for you before my Father in heaven.”
As if Jesus owes us something for taking a stand for Him. He’s the reason we are standing. And God took a stand for us before we took a stand for Him. And still, when we take a stand for God, Jesus responds by taking a stand for us.
Let me show you something really interesting so you can get the full impact of this:
Colossians 3:1 NLT – Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.
So, Jesus is not standing. He’s seated next to God praying for you and me. But, why is He not standing?
There’s one time in the New Testament where it tells us that Jesus stands. And it’s when a guy named Stephen wouldn’t stop preaching and became the first Christian to die for taking a stand for God. There have been millions since.
So, they tied Stephen to a pole and continued to throw stones at him until he died. And while they were stoning him, look at what happened:
Acts 7:55-56 NLT – But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!”
So, Jesus does stand. When does He stand?
When I stand, Jesus stands with me.
What a beautiful thing. When you take a stand for God, you’re never standing alone.
You may be having a moment right now where your heart is crying out. You’re stirred on the inside because you know you haven’t been taking a stand for God. Maybe you’ve been a compromising Christian or maybe you’re not a Christian at all.
You just know your commitment level to God is not where it needs to be. And today, you’re ready to take a stand.
It all starts by taking a stand in your heart. This is something that happens on the inside before it is ever seen on the outside. So say the following prayer as you make that commitment to God.
Jesus, I’ve been living without you and I don’t want to do that anymore. I’ve done a lot of things wrong and I need your forgiveness. I accept Your love and grace for me and ask that You would be my Lord. Thank you for making me new. Thank you for washing away my past. I hand my life over to you and ask that you’d help me walk out your plan for my life.