- GET STARTED
- Hebrews 12:2; Daniel 6:10; 1 Kings 20:13-14
- Lyndol Loyd August 13, 2017
When I was in high school, one of the many activities that I participated in was One-Act Play contest. One of the things that we would do, before each and every competition we competed in with that year’s play, was to have a dress rehearsal. It was an opportunity to go through the show and work out any kinks that might exist before we performed in front of the judge and audience.
Sometimes dress rehearsal would go smoothly and other times not so much. While we didn’t want to have a bad dress rehearsal, it didn’t matter all that much if we did, because in the end, it didn’t really count. It was just practice. What really mattered was how we performed on the day of the competition.
Some days I find myself wishing that life had a dress rehearsal, but the hard truth that each one of us has to come to grips with is that this is our one and only life. This is our one shot so we need to treat each day as precious and make decisions about how we live accordingly.
Today, we’re starting a brand new series called, “This Is Your Life”. For the next several weeks I’m going to ask you to reflect upon the story of your life past, present and future.
We each have stories that we love to tell, but unfortunately all of us have stories we’d rather leave untold, maybe even entire chapters. Maybe even you go and try to edit some of the old stories because there are parts of our story that we’re ashamed of and wish that we had never been a part of.
What’s so interesting to me is to think back over my life and to realize how many decisions had really a significant impact on the direction of my life.
Do any of you ever think about that? I think back to a phone call I received from the Senior Pastor of FUMC in Waco, TX, just before my last year of seminary. He wanted to know if I would consider moving to Waco to be the associate pastor and I would be willing to finish up school during J-terms and summer.
It was really flattering to have someone who wanted me. I actually thought about saying yes, but said no because I had already committed to be the student body president for the upcoming school year.
Looking back now, I’m so glad that I did because it was that fall that I met Joni. Had I moved to Waco, I don’t how our paths would have ever crossed. I can’t begin to imagine how different my life would have been.
Sometimes we look back at life and say, “Wow, I can’t believe the way that decision impacted my story!”
The other side is true as well; the stories aren’t always positive. Sometimes we look back and we think, “Man, I had no idea how that seemingly small decision would impact my life in such a negative way.” I look back and think, “I wish I hadn’t started that!” or “I wish I had never said that!” or “I wish I had never gone there!” or “I wish I had never become friends with that person,” because when I made that decision I had no idea how my life would start to unravel.
We need to internalize the power of this truth: The decisions that we make today will determine the stories that we tell tomorrow. This is your life. There is no dress rehearsal. Our decisions really matter.
So the big question I want to ask today is:
How do we live a life that produces a story that we want to tell? The answer, I believe, is found in Hebrews12:2 which will be our key verse for this series. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and perfecter of our faith.”
Wouldn’t it be amazing if you let Jesus become the Author of your life and help you live the story that God wanted you to tell? How do we live a story worth telling? I believe if we fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, then He will help us tell the story that God wants us to tell.
Each week we are going to look at some critical decisions we can make that will enable this to happen. This morning we begin with making the decision to start up some kind of discipline that helps us to live the story God wants us tell.
Today, I want to talk to you about deciding to start a discipline that can be life-transforming. In fact, how many of you were here with us last fall for the series “The 10 Second Rule”? We talked about the habit of immediate obedience to God when you reasonably know God is asking you to do something not to think about, but to go ahead and do it in the next ten seconds.
The author of that book, Clare DeGraff, wrote about how that kind of a habit and discipline, when practiced in our lives, has a way of cascading forward into positive momentum and other positive habits, and vice versa.
Today, we’re going to decide to start a discipline that can transform our lives. We’re going to look at an Old Testament story where we see someone make decisions that change the direction of his life.
Today, we’re going to look at Daniel in the Lion’s Den. Now if you know the story, Daniel was looked favorably upon by King Darius. King Darius selected 120 satraps—these were like governors to rule the territory. He picked three men to be over the 120; Daniel was one of the three. Daniel so stood out in his integrity and his leadership skills that the king said, ‘I want to put Daniel in charge over everyone.’
The other 120 guys were jealous and said, ‘We’ve got to put a stop to the teacher’s pet, Daniel.’ So we pick up the story in Daniel 6:4-5. “4Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy.”
Stop right here, what were they doing? They were looking for a little dirt, “Let’s find some trash, some reason to make charges against this guy.” But they couldn’t find anything.
The Bible says, “5So they concluded, ‘Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the rules of his religion.’”
So they came up with a plan, you can read all of the details. They basically went to the king and said, ‘Hey king, we’ve got a great idea; wouldn’t it be awesome that for the next thirty days, no one would be allowed to pray to anyone or any God except for you oh king! And if they pray to any other God, then you throw them into the lion’s den.’
The king replied, ‘That sounds pretty cool to me, let’s make a law. No one prays to anyone but me. And if they do, they’ll be thrown into the lion’s den.’
Why was Daniel looked upon favorably? Why was he a man of integrity? Why was there no corruption found in him? Why did the king promote him in his leadership? Why did God show favor upon Daniel in the lion’s den and deliver him from the mouths of the hungry lions? Why? I’ll show you why, because years ago Daniel made a decision to start doing something that made him into the man of integrity that he became. Let me show you what his decision was, V. 10
“10But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.”
“Just as he had always done.” Think about this, who knows for how long, certainly weeks, maybe months, perhaps years, maybe more than a decade; three times a day, Daniel stopped whatever he was doing, made an appointment with his one true King, knelt down before God and aligned his heart to God, worshiped his God, prayed that God’s will would be done.
Why was he successful, why was he a man of integrity? Why was he looked upon favorably by the king? Why did he rise in influence? Because he made a decision to start, three times a day, praying to his God and God transformed his story into the story that God wanted Daniel to tell. The decisions we make determine the stories that we tell.
I want to pose two questions to you. The first question is very simple. I want you to ask yourself the question: What does God want me to want?
I bet any of us, if we’re really honest, would say, “Well yeah, there is this in this one area of my life that’s not where it should be.”
For some of you it might be a different financial story. If you start a discipline today, and I don’t know what that would be, you start to budget or you start a financial class, or you start to get a mentor, or you start cutting up your credit cards or whatever. But, if you start getting ahold of your finances today, five years from now your story could be different
For some of you, God wants for you to have the right priorities, because you don’t right now. Five years from now, if you start the right discipline today, your story might become something like this:
“Well several years ago, I wasn’t a good husband or a good mom or a good spouse, and I was pursuing my career more than anything else and it was my god to me. I told myself that I was doing this for my family, but I was really doing it for myself. I started to come home every day at six o’clock. Now it’s totally different; I have the marriage that I’ve always wanted and my kids know me and I know them and I’m involved in their lives.” That could be your story if you’ll start the discipline today.
Based on what God wants you to want, based on the story that you know God wants you to tell, answer this question: What do you need to start?
What do you need to start in order to tell the story that God wants you to tell? Here’s the key, what I want you to do is pick one thing and one thing only, because every single one of you are going to be tempted to do what I’m tempted to do; I look at my life and go, “I need four things or seven things, or all of these different things!” The truth is, if you try to do seven things or nine things, you’re not going to any things! You pick one and you commit to one. You pray, you ask God, “What do you want me to want? What story do you want me to tell?” Then, what discipline do you need to start today to tell that story in the future?
During my time in Orlando, I was fortunate enough to be Kenny Fite’s pastor. In the summer of 2014 Kenny started to contemplate what might happen in his life if he started getting up earlier each morning. Prior to this time his habit had been to stay up too late and then get up later than he should. He would find himself rushing around in the mornings and being late for things.
He came across an article about how some of the most successful people in life make it their practice to get up really early, like 5:00 a.m. early. Kenny wondered what might happen if he did this. He didn’t feel like he had much time to work on himself or as he described it to me, he was paying himself last.
The first day he tried it, he failed. He fell back asleep so he started thinking about what he could do to make it work for him. So he started waking up four minutes earlier each day for thirty days knowing that at the end of those thirty days he would be waking up two hours earlier than he normally would.
At first he wasn’t really sure what to do with the time. He prayed. He downloaded a devotional. Then as his time started to expand, he started to go on walks. Then he decided that he really wanted to do something creative. He had always wanted to write a book.
Flash forward to today and Kenny has written his ninth book. He has a blog that he writes with a couple hundred subscribers. But most importantly, all of this has changed Kenny because he believes it has given him the time in his day to think back on his life and reflect upon the lessons that he can learn.
Because Kenny had this kind of dedicated time in his day to spend with God and for him to write, it has also provided him with some unexpected gifts. On Father’s Day 2015, Kenny used one of his morning to write a letter to his dad thanking him for the role that he had played in his life. Little did Kenny know that his father would pass away shortly after that. He told me that if he hadn’t started this new discipline in his life that he never would have taken the opportunity to write those words to his dad which are now even more important to him.
So here’s the question for you: What does God want you to start? In light of what God wants you to want, what does He want you to start, what discipline?
Some of you might have an insecurity; it might be an overeating problem, it might be an addiction, it might be an inappropriate quest for material things, it might be bad thought processing, it might be unforgiveness, and you need to start counseling. You need to submit yourself to someone else who has the wisdom to say, “Here’s the lies that you’re believing and here’s what the Bible says and you need to renew your mind with truth or you’re continuing to build your life on lies.” You need to start counseling.
Some of you might be married and your marriage is not what it could be or should be. You know it but you’ve just been floating along, and so you may need to start something that helps your marriage. You might decide to start praying together. It’s amazing what praying together every day will do for your marriage because you can’t be really mad for very long if you’re going to pray together, you have to work things out.
Maybe you haven’t been alone because you have kids everywhere and you haven’t seen each other without the kids since 1999! So, you’re going to start a date night every week. You may look back and say, “Well, back when we started getting alone for two or three hours a week it totally changed our marriage.”
Some of you, when you look at your spiritual life, it’s flat; it’s not where it should be. You may start making church a real priority in your life. Not just going whenever it’s convenient and not just going; but getting involved in it, using your gifts to make a difference in it, contributing financially, being a prayer warrior, engaging in the community. You may start making church a real priority.
Or some of you might start to open up in a Life Group; allowing others to speak into your life, getting to know others genuinely, being known, baring your soul, asking for help and having others pray for you. You may need to start being a part of a Life Group. Or you may need to start making God’s Word a real priority in your life. I mean, do you want to be strong spiritually? You feed on His Word.
I don’t know what you need to start, but chances are you do, if you seek God. What story does God want you to tell? Do you want to live a story worth telling? Or one day, do you want to be embarrassed by this chapter of your life? The decisions that you make today will determine the story that you tell tomorrow.