_TRUE GREATNESS_

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					                        "TRUE GREATNESS"
                     New Beginnings Church Sun. a.m. August 1/10

Theme: We are most accurately evaluated by the author of greatness.
  Text: Daniel 2:46-49, 5:29 & 10:1-21

When someone mentions, “The Great One”, who comes to mind? Wayne
Gretzky?

If I set out to become a great person of widespread notoriety, what would I need
to do? I would find a skill that I had the aptitude for and develop it to the
highest degree possible. I spent much of my childhood dreaming of being a
sports hero – these pursuits included hockey, football and basketball. I would
spend hours practicing on the basketball hoop that we had set up on our
family farm. I remember watching the Olympics then emulating those athletes’
skills in bicycling and swimming. The novelty would only last a short time,
however, and soon I was back to being the couch potato I was before I watched
my sports hero on the tube.

How would God – the author of greatness - outline the plan to true greatness?
Let’s turn back the pages of history to 600 years Before Christ to look at a man
named Daniel. Daniel was esteemed by:
People
God

Daniel was esteemed by:
People (Daniel 2:46-49, 5:29)

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had a dream that he refused to reveal to his
advisers and astrologers. He wanted them to describe and interpret the dream.
No one in the kingdom was able to accomplish such a feat except for one
person inspired by God – a young man named Daniel. The Lord revealed the
dream’s content and meaning to Daniel, who in turn passed this revelation on
to the king.

The king responds with amazement in Daniel 2:46-49:
      Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him
      honour and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him.
      The king said to Daniel, "Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord
      of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this
      mystery." Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished
      many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of
      Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. Moreover, at
      Daniel's request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego
      administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself
      remained at the royal court.

Have you ever wondered where we got the saying, “the handwriting is on the
wall”? About 65 years later Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Belshazzar, ruled Babylon
with an undisciplined heart and mind. His loose living and lack of reverence
for God caused the judgment of God to descend upon him. In the midst of a
party a hand from heaven wrote words of doom on the wall of the royal banquet
hall. Again the advisers and astrologers were sought out but no one could
explain what the writing meant. This time the not-so-young Daniel was
brought in and, under the inspiration of God, explained the meaning of “the
handwriting on the wall”.

This time another king responds by honouring the prophet in Daniel 5:29:
       Then at Belshazzar's command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold
       chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third
       highest ruler in the kingdom.

Daniel became the right hand man for the greatest kings of the then known
world. People of lower stature than Daniel would have been satisfied with this.
Who would not have enjoyed such prestige and power? Daniel, however,
realized that people’s esteem and honour could be fickle and shaky.

Bill Cosby concluded, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is
trying to please everybody.”

The teacher had asked her students who the six greatest Canadians were. All
of them had turned in their papers except David.

"Can't you finish your list, David?" asked the teacher.

"I'm still undecided," he replied, "about the goaltender.”

The childhood and youth of Jesus Christ are summarized in Luke 2:52: "And
Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."

He also realized the limitations of human approval, as we see in John 6:14-15:
      After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did [by feeding the
      5000], they began to say, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into
      the world." Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him
      king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

Maureen Howard (interviewed in "Sunday", Chicago Tribune magazine Sept. 7,
1986, Christianity Today, Vol. 32, no. 8) observed:
      We've lost ourselves in the cult of personality. We seem to have become
      "fans," passive spectators of the passing scene. The stars we either
      admire or despise serve as a distraction from the things we should be
      thinking about, such as our own lives.

The question I ask myself when I am in front of a crowd of people is, “Whom
will I be with when everyone has gone home?”

Daniel was esteemed by:
People (Daniel 2:46-49, 5:29)
God (Daniel 10:1-21)

As impressive as Daniel was in the natural realm, his influence was even
greater in the spiritual realm. Yes, there were many people who looked up to
him in the palace and kingdom of Babylon, but even God and his angels
recognized his power and authority in the heavenly realms.

A dramatic encounter is described in Daniel 10:1-11:
     {1} In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to
     Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it
     concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him
     in a vision. {2} At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. {3} I ate
     no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at
     all until the three weeks were over. {4} On the twenty-fourth day of the
     first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris,
     {5} I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a
     belt of the finest gold around his waist. {6} His body was like chrysolite,
     his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs
     like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a
     multitude. {7} I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; the men
     with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled
     and hid themselves. {8} So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I
     had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. {9}
     Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep
     sleep, my face to the ground. {10} A hand touched me and set me
     trembling on my hands and knees. {11} He said, "Daniel, you who are
     highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak
     to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you."

I would be shaking in my boots too if I had such an encounter with an
awesome spiritual being! Theologians call this incident a “Christophany” or
appearance of Jesus Christ before He took on the form of a human more than
500 years later. The angel that was employed by Christ to talk with Daniel
gave him all the encouragement and comfort that he could. It was apparently
not He whose glory he saw in the vision that touched him, and talked with him;
that was Christ, but this seems to have been the angel Gabriel, whom Christ
had once before ordered to instruct Daniel in Daniel 8.
A visiting pastor at a country church asked one of the farmers if he could use
his barn to get away where it was quiet and study for his message. After
several hours of study, the pastor left the barn for a walk. When he came back
he discovered that the cow had eaten all of his sermon notes. The next day the
farmer complained to the pastor that his cow had gone dry.

What power Daniel had! The angel Gabriel goes on to lift the curtain on the
spiritual realm by describing the spiritual struggle that ensued as a result of
Daniel’s prayers. Forces of darkness are referred to here, battling over the
physical kingdoms of Persia and Greece. In the midst of such war the word
comes from the throne of the King of kings to Daniel, “You who are highly
esteemed.” There were many people loved by God in Daniel’s day, but how
many could be described as ones who were highly esteemed by the Almighty?

Thomas À Kempis (C. 1380-1471) sized it up this way: “It is preferable to have
the whole world against you, than Jesus offended with you.”

Even before Jesus had gained public recognition we hear His Father’s approval
in Matthew 3:16-17:
      As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that
      moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending
      like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is
      my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

What is it about Daniel and about Jesus that would set them above the crowd
to gain such attention from heaven? It was their hearts that were so dedicated
to loving and pleasing One more than anyone else. Their passions and
affections were focused on the author of greatness. In return the author of
greatness promoted them above the others that God loved.

We are not talking about earning God’s love. My children, Allison and Braden
cannot do anything to earn my love – they already have it. They can do plenty,
however, to put a smile or a frown on my face. We are talking about living in
such a way that you want to please only one person – your Creator and
Heavenly Father.

People measure greatness by power and accomplishments. God measures
greatness by your passions and desires. People measure greatness by how you
look and sound. God measures greatness by what is in your heart.

Make an investment in your soul’s development:
 Recognize your absolute dependence upon God for everything
 Give yourself to knowing Him intimately
 Be quick to ask forgiveness of Him and of people when you sin
   Roll up your sleeves and be ready to serve where and when you are needed

A large prosperous downtown church had three mission churches under its
care that it had started. On the first Sunday of the New Year all the members of
the mission churches came to the city church for a combined Communion
service. In those mission churches, which were located in the slums of the
city, were some outstanding cases of conversions - thieves, burglars, and so on
- but all knelt side by side at the Communion rail. On one such occasion the
pastor saw a former burglar kneeling beside a judge of the Supreme Court of
England - the judge who had sent him to jail where he had served seven years.
After his release this burglar had been converted and become a Christian
worker. Yet, as they knelt there, the judge and the former convict, neither one
seemed to be aware of the other.

After the service, the judge was walking home with the pastor and said to the
pastor, "Did you notice who was kneeling beside me at the Communion rail this
morning?"

The pastor replied, "Yes, but I didn't know that you noticed." The two walked
along in silence for a few more moments, and then the judge added, "What a
miracle of grace."

The pastor nodded in agreement, "Yes, what a marvellous miracle of grace."

Then the judge asked, "But to whom do you refer?"

And the pastor replied, "Why, to the conversion of that convict."

The judge explained, "But I was not referring to him. I was thinking of myself."

The pastor, surprised, replied, "You were thinking of yourself? I don't
understand."

"Yes," the judge replied, "it did not cost that burglar much to get converted
when he came out of jail. He had nothing but a history of crime behind him,
and when he saw Jesus as his Saviour he knew there was salvation and hope
and joy for him. And he knew how much he needed that help. But look at me.
I was taught from earliest infancy to live as a gentleman; that my word was to
be my bond; that I was to say my prayers, go to church, take Communion and
so on. I went through Oxford, took my degrees, was called to the bar and
eventually became a judge. Pastor, nothing but the grace of God could have
caused me to admit that I was a sinner on a level with that burglar. It took
much more grace to forgive me for all my pride and self-deception, to get me to
admit that I was no better in the eyes of God than that convict that I had sent
to prison.
Whose evaluation will you concern yourself with the most? Daniel was
esteemed by:
People
God

We are most accurately evaluated by the author of greatness.

				
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