An Open-Window Faith

Do you live the same in public as you do in private? Or you do you keep your faith hidden when it might result in you having to face consequences or discomfort?

Transcript 

HAITI SEND OFF

Morning.  David Sorn.  Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.

(Put up picture of Haiti houses)

Well, on Thursday morning, our Haiti Team will be departing to change the world.  

At this point, I’d like to call our 15 brave Team members to come on stage w/ me (I’ll call up your name, and you can come forward)

Jordan Hoff

Haley Barrett

Mandy Hankel

Jason Ackerman

Pua Vanover

Stephanie Kangas

Karl Ackerman

Angie Hibma

Nancy Miller

Evan Dammar

Beth Dammar

I will be going as well

And then we have 3 others who are going (Rachel Cheney, & Matt & Amy Cheney), who are not here this morning because they are currently with 19 of our youth group students who are at camp this weekend! 

Last week we took our annual special offering for Haiti, and I’m very excited to announce that we hit our goal for the Haiti Offering!

(Show NewChurchWIthoutRoof Picture)

In fact, in an amazing display of generosity (and a movement of God), we actually demolished the goal.

Our hope was to see $7,500 come in, and we saw $10,000 come in last week!!

So, we will be able to not only put on the roof and build benches, but with the excess funds, we are now going to put in 13 windows, a door in the back, and a nice double-entry door in the front.

And we’re hoping to have a little extra to get them started on a Sound System as well.

The church is so happy and so excited because of your generosity, that they are moving in just two weeks!

Thank you so much for changing the world with us. 

Our team would really, really like you to pray for us.

In fact, when you leave today, you’re going to get handed a really nice prayer postcard with a picture of our team and our prayer requests.

Would you take that home?  And put it on your fridge or counter?  And then pray for us during our trip?  From Thursday to Thursday? 

We do this TOGETHER. 

We go.  You support.  You pray.  But TOGETHER we do this.. 

In the Bible, when people were about to go out on a missionary journey, people would come around them and lay hands on them, and commission them to go out and change the world.  It’s a really cool visual actually. 

So at this time, I’m going to ask the team to step in front of the stage…

And if you’re a friend or family member (in your house group), I’d like to invite you to come up and gather around this amazing team and lay hands on them (come on down)

And one of our elders (_________), is going to pray for us.

  

INTRODUCTION

(Show Stranger in Strange Land Series Slide)

One of the things that’s always absolutely fascinated me is how we often hide who we really are…and what we really believe

Most of us have a pretty hard time acting the same way in public as we do in private.

We’re often quick to show the world a false version of us…a more palatable one…one we think they will like better. 

We do this even on simple levels. 

For example, you may spend your evenings watching really nerdy sci-fi shows…and if you do…there’s nothing wrong with that. 

But when you’re at work the next morning…and everyone’s talking about what they watched last night…you say, “Yeah, I totally watched Lip Sync Battle…then the Golden State Warriors…Stephanie Curry man!...Stephen…Steph??!”

The problem is, we do this at all sorts of different levels…even faith.

You act and believe one way at home or at church or House Groups…

But when you’re at work or around your old friends from High School…so many of us hide the parts of us that are spiritual. 

And I don’t just mean “not volunteer it”…

I mean sometimes, even when asked about it…or if people are talking about it…we hide. 

And why do we do that? 

And what are the ramifications from doing that?

And how do we change?

 

 

THE PASSAGE

This morning, we’re going to be concluding our Stranger in a Strange Land series on the Book of Daniel

And we’re going to be looking at one last true story from Daniel’s life. 

A man who worked his whole life to be one person…a man of God…everywhere he was.

And I think we need to learn from Him.

Because we too live in a strange culture.

A culture that urges us every day to hide who we really are when we come into public  

           

We’re going to be in Daniel chapter 6 today.

(Page 725)

(Renovation App) 

This is the most famous story from Daniel…Daniel & The Lion’s Den.

Interesting tidbit here…

When you think of paintings or illustrations for kids of Daniel and the Lion’s Den…how old do you pictures Daniel being?

I feel like most of us picture him being a young man.

But in fact, Daniel is most likely in his 80’s at this point.

Crazy!

So let’s get into Daniel chapter 6, which is a good summary of what we’ve seen in the first 4 weeks of this series:

(Daniel 6:1-9) – NIV

It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, 2 with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. 3 Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.  4 At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. 5 Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.” 6 So these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said: “May King Darius live forever! 7 The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. 8 Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” 9 So King Darius put the decree in writing.

Let’s pause there for a moment. 

Know that when you publically believe in God…you’ll get two reactions:

On the one hand, some people will love you…and respect you because they see character, integrity, and love in your life.

I see this even in something as simple as the sports world.

As a MN Sports Fan, I spend most of my time following the draft each year where the worst teams hopefully get the best college players…and hopefully…one day…become better.

And as the experts evaluate college athletes, I’ve noticed that many in the media are beginning to refer to Christian athletes by the same phrase: 

They all them “high-character guys”

In other words, they notice that unlike many of the other members on their college team, they have a moral compass that guides how they treat people and live their life.

 And that can really get you places and earn the respect of many.

But that’s just one common reaction that people will have of you when they see your faith in action.    

On the flip side, many people will have a really hard time with your faith.

Because despite the fact that you might be humbly saying, “I can’t do it on my own…I’m not good enough…Jesus saved me”

Our pluralistic world…where every idea is equal…hears that…not as humility…but as arrogance.

That you know the ONE way for them to be saved

And they don’t like that.

I wasn’t a Christian for the first 18 years of my life, and a lot of Christians infuriated me

But deep down, I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that they very clearly believed in something…while I believed in nothing…and in my insecurity about that, I got angry.

And so Daniel…while liked by some…is severely disliked by others.

This shouldn’t be a huge surprise to us.

Think of Jesus:

Loved by so many and yet hated by others…they killed him!

But yet…most of us don’t know how to live as a stranger in a strange land where we are both loved and disliked for our beliefs.

And because most of us ONLY want to be loved and will do anything to avoid being disliked…we hide…we hide who we really are.

But not Daniel.  Let’s continue in verse 10.

 (Daniel 6:10-23) - NIV

 10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?” The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” 13 Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” 14 When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him. 15 Then the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, “Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.” 16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” 17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep. 19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den.20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” 21 Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.” 23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

And we’ll stop there. 

So Daniel is faithful to God in the midst of a hostile culture…and God rescues him

 

 

DANIEL’S OPEN WINDOW

Daniel’s fellow administrators & the satraps try and get him out of the way by trapping him with the decree that for 30 days…people must only pray to the King.

And if they’re caught praying to someone else…well, then…they’ll be thrown in the lion’s den.

So what does Daniel do when he’s put in this situation?

And he has to decide between obeying his God…or obeying the law of the land.

Daniel…does what he always does. 

Take a look at verse 10 again with me. 

I think it’s potentially the most important verse of the passage

(Daniel 6:10 ) – NIV

10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

After the decree is made, Daniel doesn’t go into the public square and say, “Hello everyone!  Today I will defy your evil decree!  Watch me pray, “Oh HEAVENLY FATHER…”

Daniel merely goes home, and he does what he always does.

He prays…3 times a day…right by his open window…looking out to his hometown of Jerusalem…even though he KNEW that the people would see him praying by the open window. 

This is quite interesting though.

Because couldn’t Daniel have just went out into the woods to pray?

Or, couldn’t he even have gone into an inner room?

Or even just have shut his window so they couldn’t see it?!

I mean, what would you do? 

Suppose in 2025 a new law is passed in the U.S. that says, “For the next 30 days, no one should pray to God in any church, but only to the President of the United States.  And if you break such a law, you’ll be thrown into the lion cage at your local zoo.”

Would you come to church?

Before you just say, “YES I WOULD!”

Here’s what I think most Christians would do:  They would say, “You know what…let’s just pray at home.”

“We can still pray!  We don’t need to actually go anywhere to pray!”

But Daniel doesn’t do that.

He doesn’t shut the window. 

WHY?!?

Here’s why:  Because every time you “shut the window,” you implicitly communicate (whether you meant to or not!) that the law of the land is superior to God.

And that you will follow the law of the land above all else.   

If Daniel goes back to his house, and shuts the window…because he’s been praying the same way for 60 years…people will think, “Huh…so I guess he gave up that prayer thing.  Must be praying to the king now.  I guess the king is the higher god”

But Daniel doesn’t do that.

He doesn’t want anyone to think that he’s living by the law of the land because he’s living by the law of His God

He serves a higher God.

The world is not his judge…God is.

In fact, that’s actually the meaning of Daniel’s name:  GOD…is my judge.    

What we need (you & I) is an open-window faith…just like Daniel!

A faith that is the same in private & in public

A faith that will not change simply because there may be consequences for it.

A faith that is the same no matter where it is because God is first everywhere it is

But we’re not very good at this.

I was struck by this thought when I took my kids to Culver’s a few months ago.

We pray at home before we eat…and when our food came, my kids just starting saying, “THANK YOU JESUS FOR THIS FOOD!!”

And embarrassingly, my first thought was, “Sheesh, not so loud”

But see, they haven’t been tainted by the culture yet. 

They were living the SAME at Culver’s as they were at home. 

Living for God in every setting...the same…not hiding who they are in order to be better liked or fit in. 

If you pray at home when you eat…then bow your heard and pray when you eat your lunch at work

If people ask you what you did last night (and it was House Groups and you loved it), tell them.

Be honest.  Be the same. 

Open the window.  

Even though we’re not going to get thrown in the lion’s den like Daniel, we still close the window on our faith…almost every day. 

We keep our faith out of the public eye…so we won’t have to suffer any consequences…like a hurt reputation or questions or discomfort.  

I was trying to think hard this week about where I close the window…and here’s an example I thought of.

Almost every email I write, I sign, “in Christ, David.”

I’ve been doing it that way for 10 years.

But I’ve noticed…in my sin…and fear (just like everyone else) that sometimes I’ll write a non-Christian (maybe my insurance agent or a relative who’s not a believer)…and sometimes I’ll leave out the “In Christ” part. 

So I just started asking, “Why?!  What’s making me hide behind a closed window…hiding from the public who I really am? 

It’s probably a lot of things:

Fear of standing out

Fear of ridicule

Fear of consequences

Fear of it working against us.

We so often foolishly think (myself included) that maybe evangelism will work better if they see how nice we are rather than see Jesus.   

Or here are some more examples:

If you get a new job…and you feel like God was a major part of you getting it.

And let’s say a non-believing friend/family member asks you about it.

Don’t just cut the God part out…or close the window on it. 

An open-window faith is a wise-faith that speaks to each individual uniquely and differently…but it never thinks the best path forward is to downplay or cut God out  

Look at Daniel. 

He goes home…unafraid…and does the same thing he’s always done…even though he’s knows they’re going to see it now…and there will be consequences.

Because for Daniel, God is first, everywhere.

And here’s what I want us to see: A faith that bows to God in private but bows to the culture in public…is one that presents God as rather unimportant.

And I’m just not sure that American Christians fully understand the ramifications that our closed-window faith is having on those around us.

We might think we’re being kind or just fitting in, but what we’re doing is we’re telling a world that is already looking for a reason to ditch God…that there’s really nothing special about him.

When we close the window (whether we know this or not) we make people feel that Christianity is shrug-worthy

WHY?! 

Because if every time there might be consequences or even mild discomfort, we shut our windows, the world thinks that our God surely must not be that important to us…and ABSOLUTELY not worth THEM turning their life over to HIM

And when you shut the window, they’re never going to get a look at Him.

And let me clarify something…this text isn’t even saying that you all need to go out into the public square and start preaching on a box.

It’s not a text about going out and telling everyone about God (although there are others for that)

It’s a text about not changing (not HIDING) who you are in public just because their may be inconveniences or consequences. 

It says that if God is important to you…if to all things he’s superior…than we shouldn’t live in public as if he’s inferior

Live the same…same as we do in private. 

My hope is that this week you start becoming aware of the places where you are self-censoring your faith in public.

How will the world ever see how important this is if all they see is us downplaying it in front of them?

Yes, use wisdom, use tact, be wise in how you interact with each person uniquely…

But whatever you do…don’t close the windows.

 

 

CULTIVATING A GREAT FAITH

So how do you live out an open-window faith?  

Well, how does Daniel do it?  How does he go home and pray with the windows open when there will be such grave consequences for doing so?  

He was unmistakably living for God first!

And this is so clearly the message of the New Testament

When the disciples are arrested, flogged, and ordered to stop saying that Jesus is the Messiah…they respond by saying:

(Acts 5:29) – NIV

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 

If you want to begin to merge who you are as this “Christian in private” and “person in public” into the same “windows-open” person like Daniel…

Know that change starts in the little things

My wife and I attend the same House Group every week, but this past month I’ve been visiting many of our other House Groups

As we’ve been discussing Daniel as a church, in small groups, I’ve been really  intrigued to hear 4 or 5 different people mention in their groups: “If this was me, I think I’d die for my faith”

I don’t doubt their heart…

But let me be honest…the kind of faith that Daniel had…where he went home and opened his window and prayed to the REAL God…even though he knew it meant death…

That kind of faith starts in being absolutely faithful to God in the smallest of things.

Remember, Daniel started this 65 years ago, when he was a young man being offered food that was sacrificed to an idol.

If you can begin to open the window…even in the smallest of things (like many of the examples I gave)…it’s going to cultivate faith in you.

Cultivate faith in you so that you see God move in the big things.  

If you want a faith to face the lion’s den, it starts with a faith that’s willing to bow its head at lunch.  

When you’re out to eat with your co-workers tomorrow, will you bow your head quickly and pray silently?

When someone’s gossiped about tomorrow…will you stick up for them or even change the subject altogether?

Can you find the little places to come out of hiding…because you believe that God should be first in your life…everywhere!

And my heart is that we understand the following:

A closed-window faith is a fragile faith.

Because in a closed-window faith (where you’re spiritual in private…but you hide it in public), you never learn to put God first  

And when you don’t learn how to put Him first, you never get to experience the power of Him being first in your life.

This is perhaps THE THEME of the entire book of Daniel.

If you’re constantly closing the window on your faith so that people don’t see it…you are absolutely missing God moving in your life.

And you’re missing out on the influence He wants you to have in the culture….because they can’t see you w/ the windows down!!!!

Daniel continues to have influence over and over again…not because he blends in…not because he screams from a rooftop…but because he’s absolutely faithful to God in public (just as he is in private)…no matter the consequences.

See, a life built on an open-window faith (where you merge who you are in private & public) is one that is able to withstand many trials  

It’s NOT a fragile faith.

If every day, you live your life with the window open…

And it becomes habitual for you to publically live for God even when it may be inconvenient…or uncomfortable…or difficult…

If that’s how you live…when the storms come…when they threaten you with the lion’s den…you’ll be ready!

And you’ll have a lifetime of experience to draw on…

To KNOW that God is WITH YOU…and pleased with you…no matter what.

And He’s worth it!

And you’ll throw the windows up…do what you always do…and watch God move.  (DON”T PRAY!!!)

 

 

COMMUNION

This morning, we are going to take communion as well.

 Communion is always a great time for us to remember what our faith is all about. 

In the NT, Paul writes this about the reason for communion:

(1 Corinthians 11:23-26) – NIV

 23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

And that is what we will do.  But Paul also writes in this passage that we ought to examine ourselves before taking communion. 

To 1) not do it in vain.  To only do it if we truly believe it.  And if you’re still just seeking, that’s ok.  You’re on a journey.  2) Communion is an opportunity for believers to examine themselves (ask yourself some tough questions)

Communion is a time when we remember that Jesus gave his LIFE for us, and we should give our LIFE to Him.

So before you go back today, I want you to pick an area of your life where you need to open the window.

And show the world that God comes first…and surrender that part of your life to Him.

He gave his life for yours. 

In the back, there are 2 tables….with pieces of bread and a bowl of juice.  When you’re ready, you can get up take an individual piece of bread and dip it in the juice. 

However, take some time to examine yourself before you go back.

Sometime to remember what He’s done and what He will do

And when you’re ready, at any time during the next few songs (if you need to wait, wait), you can go back and take communion. 

If you would like to pray while you’re back there, we encourage you to do so.  With each other, by yourself, or our prayer team will be in the back to pray for you as well (POINT THEM OUT)

We really just want you to encounter God during our service. 


Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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