Think about all the choices we have to face. We have to make a conscience effort to put God and seeking the Gospel of the Kingdom our first priority.
[Joshua Creech] So, a couple of weeks ago, I had an amazing opportunity. I was able to go to Camp Cotubic. If you know my son, he’s quick to tell you, “This is dad’s first time to camp.” I’ve never been to camp. So, it was a special treat for me to get to interact with the teens on a different level, a different comfort level for them and us. But if you remember back to either the camp video or maybe you’ve had some interactions with the teens, since then, they went over, maybe they’ve explained what the theme was. They’ve discussed with you what the topic was. It was God’s vision for you. It was God’s vision for you.
So the way camp works if you’re not familiar, that’s the overall theme, but each individual day, they build sub-themes. They have these sub-themes that Christian living is done every single day, and we’re able to discuss that overall vision of God’s vision for you as a step-by-step process throughout the week to help it develop into something that they can take to heart and that they can take home and have a deeper understanding to.
One of those themes that we touched on was “Choose Life,” “Choose Life.” We each have a choice to choose life. And it was a cool experience to get to sit down with the teens and go through this process and have that knowing that it’s a choice that we have. Coincidentally, I had someone recently send me a short story. They passed this on to me, and it matched up with this “Choose Life,” and that’s how I came to my topic today of what I’m going to bring out to everyone today.
This story, it goes like this, there was a grandfather who had extra time. He was spending some time with his grandson, and he decided he was going to take the opportunity and not waste it. He was going to teach him a life lesson. He was going to use every bit of that time that he had with him and make it worthwhile. So he told the boy. He sat him down. He said, “There’s a fight going on inside of me. There’s a fight going on inside of me.” He said, “It’s not just in me though.” He said, “It’s in you. It’s in everyone who’s existed. So we’re not alone. This fight is everywhere we look.”
He said, “It’s a terrible fight between two wolves.” He said, “The first one. The first one’s good. It’s altruistic, thoughtful, peaceful, loving, kind, full of faith.” He said, “But the second one is the complete opposite, everything that the first one isn’t.” He said, “It’s anger, pride, arrogance, greed, envy, self-pity.” And then his young grandson sat there for a minute. He was perplexed, thinking about this. After a minute, maybe a couple of minutes, he asked, “Well, which wolf wins? Which one wins?” It was a simple answer from the grandfather. He said, “It’s the one we feed, the one we feed.”
Through our choices, we choose life. These aspects of our character and how we act on a day-to-day basis, the challenges that we face, that’s what makes us who we are, and that’s us choosing. That’s us getting to make the conscious effort of choosing how we’re going to act in different situations, different scenarios. This isn’t just a story to us, this battle. This is real life to us. This is our lives. Each and every one of us, it’s our life. All through life, we have continual struggles to feed either the good one or the bad one.
If you would, please turn with me over to Romans. We’ll take a look at Romans 7, and we see how difficult the struggle really is. Romans 7, and we’ll start in verse 21. In this section here, Paul is discussing this inward struggle, this warring that is happening to all of us and how difficult it truly is to feed the good wolf.
So Romans 7 and picking it up in 21, I’ll read all the way through 25. It says, “I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God–– through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
That’s the battle we face. Paul’s telling us right here, we’re not alone. We’re not alone in this battle. We’re not an outlier. We’re not the only ones experiencing the struggles to be obedient to God and His way of life. We all have to face it. We all have the choices to make. Throughout history, humans have had to make decisions, tough decisions. Sometimes they were the wrong decisions. They’re difficult. We see this stemming all the way back to Adam and Eve. They had a choice of which fruit to eat. From which tree were they going to partake of?
We see that back in Genesis 3. It goes through the steps leading up to the decision they came to, and the consequences of their actions kind of gives a little bit of their thought processes along the way and how they made that decision of what they were going to do. So don’t ever think that you’re alone. Don’t ever think and beat yourself up that maybe you’ve made some poor choices that you have to battle this individually because we’re all making choices. We’re all trying to grow and develop.
So our thinking, our choices on a day-to-day basis, are they critical? Are they absolutely critical? Think about that for a second. Think about the choices that we make every day. Maybe we make them monthly, whether it’s paying bills. We have those monthly. Maybe there are some choices that we only do on a yearly basis. We have choices everywhere we look. Some are important. Some are not as critical at times.
As you think about this and some of those decisions that we make on a day to day basis or monthly, why don’t you turn over to Deuteronomy 30 with me? And think about that. Think about all the different choices that we have, all the choices that we face. I want to pick out a couple verses of Deuteronomy 30. The first one’s going to be verse 15, Deuteronomy verse 15. It says, “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.”
And then if you drop down to 19. 19 says, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I’ve set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” We get to choose. We get to choose. We have to be purposeful. We have to be purposeful with the decisions we have. We have to choose life. It’s not just going to happen. It doesn’t just fall in our laps. It takes a conscious effort.
The choices that we make every day, they’re going to direct our life. It’s feeding one of those two things inside of us in the right direction or the wrong direction. That’s what we have to be aware of with all the difficult decisions that we have that we’re faced with.
So let’s think about some of these more difficult decisions. So teenagers, teenagers, you’re preparing for college. You’re setting yourself up for college, what college you’re wanting to go to, figuring out what’s going to be the best situation for you. Once you figure out a college, are you going to be able to commute, or do you need to live on campus? Figure out what kind of degree you’re going to pursue. And it moves into young adults, those who are either in college or just after college. You’re there at college now. So what are you faced with?
Is that degree that you’re pursuing really what you want to be in? Those are the choices. Sometimes you may change it two or three times. Now we see college students changing it more and more as they progress, different things that they realize about the jobs that they would be heading into or the careers that they decide they don’t want to do. So, those degrees. You’ll be spending the rest of your life doing that. Is that really what you want to do?
You start to look for potential employers, potential employers that can help you grow in your career and somebody that you are actually going to benefit them. You want to be an asset to the companies. Other phases of life that we have have just as important just as significant choices as we progress through. When are we going to start seriously dating? Do we even want to get married? Do we start dating? If you do want to get married, at what point do you want to have your career established? Are there certain things you want to have done before getting married?
If you get married, do you want to have kids? How many kids? How much space between each kid? Sometimes you don’t plan properly, and they get much closer than you anticipate. Another phase in life. You’ve been in a career for 5, 10, 15, 20 years, time to update that resume. Maybe you want to look around see what’s going on. Maybe you need to increase your income. You want a new car. You’re looking for a house. Then you have to think about where you want to live.
Then you get into retirement. When is it time to retire? When is that point reality? It doesn’t stop there though. There’s still choices at that point too. You’re going to move south? We have a lot of snowbirds here in Cincinnati. Are you moving south? Are you going to move closer to family? These are all questions that have to be answered, choices that we have to make on an individual basis.
Every stage of our human life has life-altering choices, consequences from the decisions we make. They have to be made. They have to be made. And all that plays into our spiritual life as well. Before we get there though, we have simpler choices, right? They’re not all life-altering.
What time we go to bed. What TV shows or movies we watch. Should I wake up early and work out? What are we going to have for breakfast? What do I want to wear to work tomorrow? These are all things that may seem menial that don’t matter. Should I put gas in the car because it’s on E and I don’t want to make the next person do it when they first hop in or do I go ahead and just park it and say, “All right, I forgot this time?” What happens when we start treating these as insignificant choices, unimportant?
There’s a commonality between our life-altering ones and these simpler choices. There’s a big commonality. No matter how big or small, we have to make them on an individual level, and we need to be consistent with how we’re choosing them. We have to have that same mindset of choosing life. Each time that we make one of these choices, each time we face something, we have to choose life. We have to make sure it matters and that the direction of our life and what we’re presenting in our attitude and character is consistent, consistent with God’s standards.
So from a carnal aspect, a lot of those smaller ones, they’re important. They’re completely vital for our survival. If we aren’t making the right choices to eat right, to get some sort of exercise, we’re not going to be able to sustain life. If we aren’t sustaining life, we don’t have the possibility to grow spiritually. And that is the key. That is the most important aspect of why we’re sitting in this room today as brothers and sisters, trying to follow in Christ’s footsteps. That’s why we’re here.
Priority number one is our spiritual growth, our spiritual growth. Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
American King James Version×makes it clear as day. It says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” All of it shall be added to you. While we think about that, what exactly does it mean seeking first the Kingdom of God? Because we do need a sustained life. We do need to make sure we’re healthy and we’re able to seek the kingdom.
If you turn back to Mark, Mark 10, we find the magnitude of what we’ve been asked to do. Mark 10:29 Mark 10:29And Jesus answered and said, Truly I say to you, There is no man that has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,
American King James Version×. We get a better understanding of what’s expected of us, what’s required. So leading up to this verse, we have the rich man who went to Jesus and was going through, “Hey, I’ve done this. I’ve done this. What do I need to do?” And Jesus tells him, “Sell all that you have. Follow Me. Sell it all. Follow Me.” It was a choice that he wasn’t able to choose. He wasn’t able to perform that.
And a couple of verses later, we get down to 29. In 29, Jesus says, “Assuredly, I say to you, there’s no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time— houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions— and in the age to come, eternal life.” Eternal life. That is seeking the Kingdom of God. What’s this getting at though? What is this pointing out to us? It’s a conscious effort that we put God first. It’s a conscious effort to put the gospel first, the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. That’s what it’s saying.
It’s saying we can’t put anything… we can’t prioritize anything above it. Those things that we cherish and we love, they can’t be first. These physical things can’t be first. It talks about a house. What are our houses? Most of them aren’t just a house. They’re not just a structure we live in. It’s not drywall and paint, decals if you have children. It’s not a flower bed. It’s not a house. It’s our home.
We make them our home. We make memories there with our families and our friends. It’s something that we cherish. We feel safe. We feel secure there. It’s not just a house. It’s something important to us, and we can’t put that first. We can’t make that priority number one. And then it gets even more specific. It starts talking about individual family members, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, children. These are the people we hold closest to our hearts. These are the people that make us tick every day, those relationships and those bonds.
Is God saying family doesn’t matter? Absolutely not. That’s not consistent with what God is, who He is and what He’s doing. He’s building a family. So He’s not saying that these people aren’t worth anything, but what He’s saying, we need to be aware that our choices need to make sure that He’s number one.
We can’t put any of that before Him. We can’t place our carnal things above Him. No matter how much we love and cherish these things, how much it means to us, it’s our choice to pick eternal life. It’s a choice that we have. It’s a choice that we’re making every day. The choices and determinations that we make on a regular basis gauge whether or not we’re choosing life. It sets that direction, that path.
We’ve got an amazing example in the Bible. One of the most magnificent examples I think I get to turn to is Daniel when he was thrown into the lion’s den. So if you would, you can flip over there, to Daniel 6. We’re going to go through this story here. I’m not going to read it verse by verse. I’m going to summarize most of it. But you should be able to get the gist of it, and these choices that we have, I’m going to play back on those and how he acted, what his attitude was and characteristics, what made him tick and how he processed different things.
Daniel chose that his relationship with God was more valuable than any man’s words, even if it meant his own life. So let’s walk through a little bit of this, and like I said, I’ll try summarizing it. So we begin here. At this point, Daniel was approximately 80 years old as he’s going into this section of chapter 6. He’s right about 80. He finds himself in a difficult situation. He’d done well for himself. He’d made a good career. He was one of the King’s top advisors. He’d been trustworthy. He’d been reliable, and he got promoted all the way up, up and up and up the chains.
And he became one of the top administrators. That was through exceptionally hard work. He was diligent with what he did. He was efficient. He got things done all the way to the point that he started getting recognized by a pagan king. This pagan king utilized him, and he became a top advisor. He was able to recognize the contributions that David gave to the land, to his kingdom. That’s why he found the position that he was working in. Like we see some times today, this infuriated some of the other advisers, some of the other people he worked with. They were not happy about it. And they came up with this plot, and they attempted to have him undercut.
They were trying to figure out a way to get him removed from his position. They didn’t care the reasoning, but they wanted to find something, anything they could use to besmirch his name, to make him lose his role. They didn’t care what it was. They were looking for any little bit of dirt, any skeleton that he had in his closet. They were diligently looking for it. But they couldn’t find any. Like I said, we find cases of this today.
Many of you may have either experienced it yourself or you’ve watched other co-workers it happened to. Society, the workforce is cutthroat at times. Maybe you’ve witnessed people who are doing well. They are progressing. Bosses are noticing. Then someone else either starts taking credit for things that the other was doing, or they start spreading rumors and lies, anything they can do to undercut him. It’s just sometimes human nature. We don’t want to see the other person succeed. That’s what was happening here. It’s exactly what Daniel was experiencing.
He was trying to be overthrown from his position. All the success he had, they wanted removed, but they couldn’t find anything. So they resorted to the one thing they knew and they could rely on. And that was Daniel’s character. That was his attitude, his personality. He was squeaky-clean everywhere else, but they knew they could get him. They were jealous, and so they came up with this plot.
They came up with this plot to use the king against him without the king realizing it. They were going to use his faithfulness to God in this plan to have him removed from his position, from the administrative position he was in. Even though these people hated him down to the core, they recognized his faithfulness. They recognized that’s what they could use.
So what they did, they went to the king. They went to the king, and they started using flattery and building up, “Live forever king. You’re great.” I could think of any number of things that they could say to the king to, you know, puff him up, make him feel good. They were the top advisors as well. They were in similar roles. They knew. They worked with the king as well. I’m sure they had any number of things that they used to build him up and make him feel good.
What they convinced him to do was to sign a decree. It’s basically a temporary law. What they wanted, they said, “Sign this decree that won’t allow anybody to pray to anybody else except for you for 30 days. We have 30 days where all prayers are directed to you. That’s it, nobody else.” The king fell for it. He didn’t process what was going on. He went ahead and signed the decree. It sounded good to him. He was excited. He’s like, “All right. Everybody’s focused on me 30 days. That’s a great thing for me, good to be king.” So he signed this. All those other workers, they thought they had him trapped. They thought they trapped Daniel.
They thought they won. They had everything figured out, no more problems. Daniel would be removed because they knew his faithfulness, and the choices that he made in his life, he would be dedicated to God no matter what over everything else. So they assembled, all these men who convinced the king to sign this decree, they assembled and waited for Daniel to pray to God.
It was pretty open in those times where a lot of times, it was more of an open kind of patio type area, and so they could clearly see. So what they did, they waited. They knew for a fact that his faithfulness, he would do it. They knew there was no getting around it that that was the only thing negative they could say about him, which isn’t really negative at all. From our standpoint, that’s dedication like we all wish we could have. So he did. He still didn’t have a poor attitude.
He wasn’t being belligerent. He wasn’t being rebellious of the decree that was signed. He was relying on God. He was being faithful. He worshiped God in the same way that he’d always done, the same manner, the same fashion, the way he was going to continue to do it even after that. No human law was going to stop him from putting God first.
So the men caught him. They saw what he did, and they took it to the attention of the king. He was immediately upset, immediately upset. He realized he’d been duped. They twisted things, and he’d been duped. He liked David. He’d put David in the position he was in. He appreciated the contributions that he had. He actually spent all day working to try to change the decree to get out of it, find some way of reneging on it. But because of the way the laws work in that society, there was nothing that he could do. It was mandatory. There was no changing it.
So he reluctantly commanded that Daniel be cast into the lion’s den. He had to follow through with it. But it’s amazing what he says. If you flip to Daniel 6:16 Daniel 6:16Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spoke and said to Daniel, Your God whom you serve continually, he will deliver you.
American King James Version×says what the king says to Daniel when he throws him in. Verse 16 says, “So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, ‘Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.” Again, this pagan king, he said, “He will deliver you.” Through the choices that Daniel made in his life, the king knew. The king knew that there was a way out, that just because Daniel was in that den, it didn’t mean the end of his life.
He saw all the things that God worked through Daniel. The times He protected Daniel, He advanced him, and Daniel was diligent to always praise God for those, always turned back to God. He protected Daniel. What happens? What happens in that lion’s den? He didn’t get devoured. He wasn’t injured. So the next day when they come back to see what happened, to see what the results were of Daniel in the lion’s den, they checked on him. They wanted to see what happened. He was fine. He was fine. God protected him.
So the king gathered all the men who accused Daniel. He wrangled them all up as well as every part of their family, their wives, their children. He threw all of them into the pit. He destroyed all of them. And immediately after that, he made a new decree. We find a new decree at the end of chapter 6. It starts in verse 26 of chapter 6.
It reads, “I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, and steadfast forever. His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall endure to the end. He delivers and rescues, and He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.” The very last verse 28 says, “So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.”
Daniel made a choice to be 100% dedicated to God, even if it meant his physical life would end. He wasn’t guaranteed that God would protect him in the lion’s den, but he had the faith. He knew that his responsibility was to be dedicated, to never give up on God and follow through. We also need to take careful note of what Daniel didn’t do. We don’t find him becoming angry at the accusers. He didn’t hate them. He didn’t hate them. We don’t find that anywhere in the Bible.
He wasn’t resentful about his faith. He wasn’t angry at God for putting him in that difficult situation. The only choices, the only qualities that we see are him feeding the good wolf. We see positivity coming from him. He continually loved God, continually. There was no ceasing. Even in the midst of this trial where it looked like his life would end, he continued to be faithful. He held on to the hope. He held on to that hope. He never gave it up through it all.
What kind of reaction would we have? We need to put ourselves in those situations. If we had somebody at work trying to undercut our promotion, how do we feel? How do we take that to heart? Do we start becoming bitter? Are we angry? Are we annoyed? Are those the choices that we’re making, are those the qualities that we’re going to show?
We can use Daniel as the reference of how not to be consumed, how not to be consumed by that bad wolf inside of us without feeding that bad wolf. We don’t want to feed the rage. We don’t want to do that no matter how difficult life is or how we think we’ve been wronged by people, how to refrain from being offended from others’ actions. We had a great sermonette last week about offending people and being offended. This is critical for everything we are, who we are.
So what was it that Daniel did exactly? How did he keep from getting consumed with self-pity, saying, “Oh, I’m in this terrible state. All these people are trying to destroy me, even the king. Even the king threw me in this pit.” Daniel fed the good wolf. He used truth, and he used humility. He knew that if he was humble, God would protect him. He knew the truth inside of him. His faithfulness was to rely on God, to worship God no matter what laws man-made. He kept that relationship close with God.
He was caught at fault for praying, for building his relationship with God, talking to God. That’s what they tried to catch him at, and that’s what saved him. His choice was to go to God in prayer, even when it meant he would suffer. Even when it meant he was going to suffer, he still got down on his knees and prayed to God, always keeping God, that relationship, that bond, that bond that we have with our father and our mother, or brothers, and sisters. That was the bond he wanted with God, and that was the one he kept. That was the one he kept. The choices were his. The choice was his to make, and he chose to stay in prayer.
We have the choice of which wolf to feed in every situation of our lives, whether it’s big or small. We may not always have control of the situation. Life throws things at us at times where it’s out of our control. But what we do get to control is our attitude, our character, who we are, who we want to present, who we want to portray ourselves as. That’s what we get to control. That’s all we’re accountable for. Not even God takes that away.
God doesn’t even take our choices away. He allows us to choose. He’s given us that free moral agency. That’s how important it is for us to make the wise choices. God has given us the ability to do that, and He’s not even going to step over that line and force us to do things. We have the choice to either choose life or choose death, feed our good wolf or feed the bad one and what’s going to come out on us. We have that freedom. We have the freedom to grow and develop spiritually. So throughout our lives, we’ll be faced with choices that are extremely important for our spiritual life, our spiritual journey of all we’re going through. They’re not always simple like which toothpaste flavor to pick. There are 50 of them at the store now. They’re not always simple. They may be difficult at times, but we still have to make the right one.
The choices determine where we are prioritizing items in our life. Are we prioritizing the Kingdom of God as number one? Being part of the God family, is that number one? I hope so. I hope this journey that we’re on, that’s always at the forefront. That’s always at the forefront that we’re trying to be part of God’s Kingdom. There might be a time in our lives where we’re faced with feeding one of these two wolves. Are we going to use love? Are we going to use joy? Are we going to be kind and patient to those people who are trying to undercut us, who are trying to take something away that we deserve? It’s hard not to feed the other one. It’s hard not to let the worldly aspect and how society would react. It’s hard not to let that consume us. It’s hard not to slip into that. But that’s what’s expected of us. It’s what’s expected of us. We have to be honest and faithful to our true calling, our true calling.
We discussed a little bit about careers and how big of an impact that has on our lives. And even at an early age, that’s one of the larger decisions that we have to make is what we’re going to spend the next 40, 50 years doing. So what happens when we find ourselves in a situation where that’s at risk? That’s one of the areas where we can be caught up because we’re being responsible and following God’s way of life. Maybe corporate sent down a letter to your boss saying there’s a mandatory change in policy. Mandatory change is once every month. It’s a mandatory weekend work, Saturday and Sunday, both, no exceptions. Once every month, it’s required. That hits us hard. That hits us real hard. How are we going to react to that?
What is going to be the choices that we make? It says it’s mandatory. Are we going to immediately quit, just throw up our hands and say, “Nope. I’m done. I quit. This is garbage. You guys are ridiculous. I can’t believe you’re instilling this”? Are we going to get sucked into that pit of negativity? If we look at this, it’s more than just a question of are we going to work the Sabbath or we not. It’s deeper than that. There’s much more to it because, how we react, that tells who we are. That tells what we’re built of, what we’re made of, what we’re focusing on. It’s not just us saying, “I’m not working the Sabbath.” That’s not it. That’s not the extent of it. There’s a broader sense that we have to grasp.
We have to take a page out of how Daniel acted. Use his playbook. Use his actions, his personality. He was a great worker. That’s why he did so well. He was a fantastic worker in a pagan world, pagan society. We’re right there with him. We’re right there with him. We find these stories in the Bible. It may have been thousands of years ago, but we’re still living it. We’re still fighting that fight. We’re on our journey now. They were on their journey then. We’re on our journey now, and we can use that.
So what do we do? Do we turn to the negative side of maybe losing our job, the potentially losing our job? Do we give up at that point? That’s not us. That’s not who we are. That’s not who God expects us to be either. He expects us to refocus. He expects us to dig deep down and rely on Him for the rest. We have to be that good example. We focus on the right things we’re doing for the company. All the good that we provided, we continue providing it. We continue providing it. We keep a good attitude. We are diligent with our work. That’s who we are. We keep providing that.
We keep showing the company, “Hey, I’m a good worker. I know you made this rule. Until you actually force me to work the Sabbath, I’ll stay here, and I’ll keep working for you. I’ll keep producing good work, good quality work.” And there may come a time where they say, “Okay. We can’t use your services anymore because you won’t work the Sabbath.” And we keep a good attitude. We understand that that’s it. But maybe God intervenes. Maybe God changes something. And our faith held strong enough and we were there, and God blessed us with maybe it worked out and we were able to keep working.
If we think about Daniel, after he had spent that night in the lion’s den, he didn’t yell at the king when the king said, “Daniel, are you down there?” He didn’t say, “What are you doing? Yeah. I’m still alive. Why am I down here in the first place? What were you thinking to put me in the pit? I was your number one guy.” He didn’t get upset. He didn’t get angry. That’s not what we find.
If you look at verse 21, it’s really cool to see how he reacted to this. Daniel 6:21 Daniel 6:21Then said Daniel to the king, O king, live for ever.
American King James Version×says, “Then Daniel said to the king, ‘O, king, live forever! Live forever!” He says, “My God sent His angels and shut the lion’s mouth so that they have not hurt me because I was found innocent before Him, and also king, I have done no wrong before you.” Daniel’s first words to the king that threw him into a lion’s pit was, “O, king, live forever. Live forever.” This wasn’t a man of God that was following God’s Way of life, this was a pagan king, who lacked the understanding of truth. And Daniel’s saying, “Live forever. I’m in this pit with these lions, but live forever.”
It wasn’t, “I told you so I’d still be here in the morning. You didn’t listen.” He said, “Live forever.” That’s how we have to act. That’s how we have to feel. We have to understand that God has us on a journey. As much as this is our path and our journey, God’s the one in control. God’s the one that’s guiding it. He’s guiding us.
Our bosses and employers in the world, they’re in the same situation as the king. They don’t quite understand our truth. They don’t have the knowledge that we do about the Bible and the truth and the understanding. They don’t understand it, but they may view you as a great worker. They love having you around. They love inviting you over to their house, going out to dinner. They know they can trust you when they have the big jobs, the important jobs that need to be done. They can trust you. They know you’ll get it done. You’ll be on time. It’ll be good quality. They don’t have to question it. They don’t have to question your effort and what you’re going to produce. That’s how we feed that good wolf inside of us. Those are the choices that we have to make.
We won’t work the Sabbath. We know that. But we also must continue in a loving, a patient, passionate frame of mind. Understand that God is in control. We may lose jobs at times, but we have to continue to be diligent. We have to be hard-working employees until they determine they can’t use us. That’s when we realize we have to part ways, is when they say, “Okay. You have to come to the Sabbath. There’s no other option.” That’s when we part ways because we won’t do that.
We aren’t willing to give up on God’s way of life, and that’s where we draw the line. That’s where we stand firm. But we can still continue to show them a different side of us, a positive side, not negativity for us being fired. We buckled down. We did our best. We provided. We were meticulous with every piece of report that we produced, every little bit of information that we produced for them. But it wasn’t enough, and that’s fine. We part ways, and we show them that we are still somebody good. We have a good heart. We have no bad feelings towards them. We have no bad feelings towards the company because that’s who we are. That’s what makes us up. That’s the wolf that we feed as God’s people. It’s the difference between us and the world.
We’re going to be a light. We’re going to be that light anywhere we go in every aspect. In every aspect of our life, we want to be a light, whether it’s the weekly Sabbath or needing time off for the Holy Days, we have to approach every situation with the same intent. We’re going to hold strong to follow God’s way of life, but we’re also going to be loving. We’re going to be patient and kind.
We must focus on being intentional. It’s what we’ve been talking about today, being intentional because it’s our choice. It’s a choice that we have, the choice that we’re going to make. We’re making it right now. We’re going to be a positive influence on everybody around us. We don’t want to feed anything but the good wolf because that’s who we want to be. That’s who we want to show. That’s who we are, the people we are.
It’s a choice for us to maintain high standards. It’s a choice. Small task daily, long life choices, that’s who we are. We have to approach it with a godly attitude, a quality of work that pleases Him. And it’s much easier if we view it that way. If we look at the quality of all of our work, all of our choices, and we view God as the one we’re trying to please, even if it’s our employer, think of it as we’re working for God. We’re working for God because we really are because it says we’re going to be a light to the world.
So by us being around all of our co-workers, our bosses, we’re working for God because, at some point in time, God’s going to flip that switch, and they’re going to understand. And hopefully, they can look back, and they can say, “Oh, that makes sense now. That makes sense why you were so kind when all of these bad things happened to you. You made a difference. I remember you. I remember how you acted. That was impressive.” That’s what we’re looking to, God standard.
So look at God as being our boss always in every aspect of our life. It’s easier to nail this concept down when we do that when we look at Him as who we’re trying to please. Now, if you’ve turned with me over to 1 Corinthians, we’ve got a section here. 1 Corinthians 10. In the last couple of verses here of chapter 10, Paul writes about this exact point of God being our focus. Pick it up in verse 33. We’ll read down through… All right. 31. We’ll start in 31 and read down through 33.
1 Corinthians 10:31 1 Corinthians 10:31Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
American King James Version×says, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the Church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.” We’re doing everything to the glory of God. We’re trying to build His family.
Do other people profit when we choose to feed that bad wolf with negativity when we tear somebody down because it didn’t go our way? Do we have disdain or disgust towards people with, “It wasn’t exactly the way we wanted”? You could replace that with any other word that’s negative that would not be considered godly.
Are we quick to jump on others when we think they’re doing something wrong, maybe they did do something wrong, maybe we asked them to do it a specific way? So it wasn’t necessarily wrong. It just wasn’t what I expected, what I was looking to get out of it, how I planned it to be done. It’s how I wanted it handled. Do we jump on them? Are we quick to react, quick to feed that bad wolf instead of being patient, instead of being kind, instead of using the completely wrong attitude? That’s where we need to take a second and choose. That’s where we need to make the choice of choosing to use kind words, loving words.
If we take a second to pause before we react, we have a better chance of making a choice of where they would profit. Maybe if we take the second to actually explain why I wanted something done away, why it would be more efficient this way. That’s loving. That’s kind. Not to tell them how stupid they were for doing it that way. It made no sense. That’s not loving.
It’s never easy to change how we think or how we act, but God has given us tools. One of the most valuable tools is the Bible. The Bible is our instruction manual. If we hold it close to our heart, we have detailed steps of how we’re to act, detailed instructions, step by step instructions of how we can change who we are, how we can make these choices to choose life. If we focus on that, it teaches us how to continually make good choices based on striving for the Kingdom of God.
I found this, the story of the two wolves, this analogy, to fit perfectly with this choosing life because every single time that we feed one of the two, it’s a choice that we make. I thought it fit nicely with the camp theme of choose life because of that, because every individual choice, every perspective that we have, decisions we make, we are to choose life. We have to go down that path with our choices.
What happens when we don’t eat? What happens when we don’t have physical food? We become drained. Day of Atonement, towards the end of the day, we’re getting tired. We’re getting worn out because we haven’t had any nutrition, any sustenance. Think of it from this analogy too. We’re actually feeding one of those two.
If we’re able to come to a point where we are very seldom feeding that negative aspect, it’s going to get weaker and weaker. It’s not going to be the first thing that pops in our head. It’s not going to be our first reaction to things. We’re starving out that negative side of us, and by starving it out, it becomes less of an impact on our lives and we start becoming the good person that we wanted to be. Those good choices are easier because that’s what we’re used to. That’s the attitude and that’s the character that we want to have. If we make biblically sound choices, we can deplete that bad wolf of nutrition to where it barely exists.
We are human. We may slip up every now and then and slip back into those tendencies because we’re carnal. But it’s not going to be very often. We’re not going to give them power over our lives to influence us. We have the choice to feed one of the two. We need to choose life.