Stuck in a Shoebox
Do you need direction in your life? Where are you getting wisdom and advice from? Find out how you might be unknowingly limiting where you get your direction from!
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church
Before I get into my message this morning, I wanted to let you know a little bit about what we’re doing in Haiti in just 3.5 weeks.
We’re going to be sending a team of FIFTEEN people from our church to help make a difference for Jesus Christ in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
Our team will be doing a number of things there including:
Putting on large Vacation Bible School’s for children
Putting on a 2-day outreach in the park where we will share testimonies, music, and the Good News of Jesus with all who come
Sharing our faith with people we meet
AND…we’re going to be doing a large construction project as well.
One that is similar to a project we had massive success with a few years ago
There is a church in Williamson, Haiti that our partner organization, World Wide Village, has been working with for years now…that is currently constructing a larger church to accommodate their growth.
Let me show you a picture of where they currently meet
Right now, this growing church is packing 100 people into that church…
A church that’s using bedsheets for walls.
But World Wide Village has engaged some other churches and donors over the past two years to help build them a new church, so they can reach even more people for Christ.
In fact, they sent me a video of the inside of this new church this week…
It’s just of kids playing soccer, but it gives you the best real-life look at what it looks like
As you watch this, can you see the main thing that’s still missing?
A fog machine! No, A roof! J
In fact, let me show you a picture of a very similar roof in Haiti, so you can see what it will look like when it’s done
(Show CompletedRoof Picture)
So, when we’re down there, just 25 days from now, we’re going to put a roof on.
But first, just two weeks from today, we’re going to give to this amazing cause to help the Gospel go further in Haiti (not just for a week while we’re there, but EVERY week)
We, the people of Renovation are going to do this.
Here’s what we’re praying that God does through us
(Put up Haiti Special Offering Slide)
Our hope is to raise $4,500 to complete this roof.
Another organization has already pitched in money as well, so this is what’s needed to complete it.
And, we hope to raise an additional $3,000 to fill it with benches for people to sit in.
For a total of $7,500
This would allow the church to grow from it’s cap of 100 (and they are capped right now…wall to wall)
It would allow them to grow from 100 to 400 people.
So, I bring this to you today, and I want you to start praying about how God can help you be involved with this in two weeks when we take our annual special offering.
Thank you for changing the world with Renovation!
So many great things going on worldwide through our church right now!
DO YOU NEED DIRECTION/WISDOM?
Let’s get into the message for the morning.
Every single one of us has points in our life where we really need direction.
In some ways, we need direction every day.
But for most us we have these moments…maybe once a year…or a few times a year…where we just REALLY need direction.
Or really what we need is WISDOM on which direction to go.
Let me give you a few examples.
Maybe you recently got a job offer but it’s not a simple decision.
Maybe it’s more money, but the hours aren’t as good…or it would require you to move.
And you need WISDOM about what to do.
Maybe you’re in a dating relationship…and you’re not sure if you should continue…or if you should pop the question or not.
And you need WISDOM about what to do.
Maybe you’ve got young kids at home…and the reality is, let’s face it, they don’t listen.
You say sit down, they stand.
You say wash your hands, they rub cake on your walls.
And you need WISDOM about what to do!
This is not an uncommon problem.
Each and everyone of us would like some more direction and wisdom on how to make major decisions and deal with significant challenges in our lives.
Maybe even ask yourself right now: What is it in my life that I could really use some wisdom on? (at home, at work, in a relationship)?
But here’s the problem.
It’s difficult to know WHERE to look for that wisdom.
And, I think it’s only getting harder.
We are in week 2 of a series called a “Stranger in a Strange Land.”
And we’re talking about how to live as a Christian even when the culture around you has really different beliefs, practices, values, or morals.
And I want you to think about this:
The culture around offers us no shortage of answers on how to make decisions and deal with the challenges we all face!
We live in the information age.
At any moment, you can get online and find instant answers for how to solve any challenge you might face:
You can google: “When is it time to get a divorce?”…and get all the worldly advice you like
Every article I read now ends with those stupid ads at the bottom that always consist of things like: 7 Reasons to dump your loser boyfriend or girlfriend
Are you feeling down, or depressed?
Just ask Siri what to do.
Or Google: “How do I feel happy?
I did it…for fun…this week.
Right towards the top was an article from the Huffington Post entitled, “9 Ridiculously Simple ways to feel Happier”
Reason #5 was: Walk, better yet, Walk Outside.
And I thought… “this is not good advice”
DANIEL CHAPTER TWO
Here’s the point, we live in a culture where there is no shortage of ideas on how to get happy, what you should do next, and how you should make that big decision…but where do you really find wisdom?
Thankfully, the Bible has great answers for us regarding this.
In our Stranger in a Strange Land series, we are studying the book of Daniel, and how Daniel, a Jew, was exiled to the very strange land of Babylon.
A land with completely different customs, beliefs, theology, and morality.
And yet, Daniel doesn’t run from this culture or go to war with it, or conform to it…He works with God to transform it.
We read last week in chapter 1 how Daniel ends up getting to be in the King’s court…one of his valued wise men…by trusting in God’s ways from the Bible…over the culture’s ways.
Let’s take a look at chapter 2 now.
(Daniel 2:1-19) – NIV
In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep. 2 So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king, 3 he said to them, “I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means.[b]” 4 Then the astrologers answered the king,[c] “May the king live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.” 5 The king replied to the astrologers, “This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. 6 But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.” 7 Once more they replied, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it.” 8 Then the king answered, “I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided: 9 If you do not tell me the dream, there is only one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me.” 10 The astrologers answered the king, “There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. 11 What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans.” 12 This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. 13 So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death. 14 When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. 15 He asked the king’s officer, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel.16 At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him. 17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven
Let’s pause there just for a second.
In Daniel chapter 1, Daniel experiences something great because he trusts in God through God’s written revelation: The bible at that time
In Daniel chapter 2: Daniel is going to experience something great because he trusts in God’s revealed revelation (that comes to him in PRAYER)!
The wisdom of God is both in His Word and in conversation with Him…AND we have to seek it out through both of those avenues
All right, let’s read just a few more verses and then I’ll summarize the dream since this is quite the long chapter.
Let’s look at 24-28
(Daniel 2:24-28) – NIV
24 Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, “Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.” 25 Arioch took Daniel to the king at once and said, “I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means.” 26 The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?” 27 Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you were lying in bed are these:
And because God told Daniel in prayer, Daniel proceeds to not only tell King Nebuchadnezzar exactly what his dream was but to interpret it for him as well.
(Show Statue Diagram Picture)
He tells Nebuchadnezzar that his dream was of a statue with a head of gold, chest & arms of silver, belly & thighs of bronze, legs of iron, & feet both or iron and clay.
But a rock, not cut out by human hands strikes the statue at its feet and smashes it to pieces.
We’ll get into this for a minute a bit later, but Daniel tells him that this is symbolic of the nations that will come after Babylon
And when Nebuchadnezzar hears Daniel correctly tell back his dream, he falls at Daniel’s feet and honors Daniel.
HOW BABYLONIAN & PRESENT WISDOM IS LIMITED
It’s really an amazing story about where one should truly access wisdom from.
Here you have Nebuchadnezzar who has a serious problem.
He’s deeply troubled by what to do with this dream.
And even though, he’s literally (no exaggeration) the most powerful man in the WORLD at that moment, all of the wisdom of the world (its finest thinkers, powerful men, and even magicians) can’t seem to help him.
And that’s because there is a definite ceiling on what worldly wisdom and direction can offer you.
Let me explain to you what exactly creates that ceiling…both for the Babylonians and for our present culture today….BECAUSE IT’S THE SAME.
Let’s start with the Babylonians.
Nebuchadnezzar is asking them for a type of direction and wisdom that isn’t going to be easily discerned.
Much like the answer to most of our life challenges when we’re not sure what to do (who do I marry, do I take this job, etc.)
Those aren’t questions that you can merely consult Siri or Wikipedia for
And so when Nebuchadnezzar asks his leading wise men, sorcerers, astrologers, magicians, and enchanters to tell him his dream…they say…”It’s impossible! We can’t do that!”
At first glance, that kind of seems like an odd response
Because…these are not secular philosophers or atheist professors…they’re straight-up pagan magicians, astrologers, and sorcerers.
Shouldn’t this type of thing be right up their alley?
Actually, not really.
See, paganism mostly relies on interpreting signs and symbols…not directly hearing from God.
The astrologer doesn’t hear from God…they interpret symbols…the stars
The magicians often had dream books where they could look up certain symbols (If you’re falling in your dream that means your life is going in the wrong direction!)
Their job wasn’t to hear direct revelation from God, but to make sense of symbols from the “gods”
And so, to the everyday Babylonian it would have felt like everything was “the gods” speaking to them
Because every promotion or job loss, every harvest or famine, and every healthy baby or illness was an opportunity for the gods to show their divine pleasure or displeasure with you…and there were priests and magicians at every corner of Babylon to tell you what the gods thought…based on your life!
But do you see the ceiling for wisdom here? The limitation?
Nebuchadnezzar, whose quite smart, sees it!
He says, “Okay, you guys are connected to the “gods”, tell me what my dream was about!”
But they can’t!
Because they can’t really tell you what the gods thought!
A) Cuz they’re aren’t any
B) Cuz they could only guess…based on the symbols they saw!
Or if we put it in modern terms, they could only work with (or mess w/) the data they had in front of them
And it’s the same VERY limiting ceiling in today’s American culture
Listen, there is no shortage of “wisdom” our culture wants to offer you when you don’t know what to do.
Surprisingly, we even still have paganism today…it’s on the rise actually.
You can still read your horoscope for direction…and see what an Aquarius should do.
I looked for fun…my horoscope for today says, “Juggling the commitments in your calendar is getting tricky”
Thank you for speaking to me…and 300 million other busy Americans
You can go see a Psychic for direction.
But it’s still the same problem.
Walk into a physic and just say, “I had a dream, tell me what it means”
And they’re going to say, “Tell me more…!”
Same problem. Limited by the data in front of them.
Now, you might not go to a psychic, but Americans still think like this ALL THE TIME…because we ALL want direction.
Just on Friday actually, I was listening to the radio (it wasn’t Christian radio), and the local radio hosts were talking about the topic of: If a number of things go wrong before your wedding, should you take that as a sign that the marriage isn’t right for you
And all sorts of people were calling in, saying, “Yes, everything went wrong (the cake never came, our invitations were sent out w/ our names spelled wrong), I should have taken that as a sign it wouldn’t work out…and here we are divorced…10 years later.
This is THE EXACT same thing they were doing in Babylon…interpreting “signs” and using them for direction
We just don’t call it “the gods” anymore.
And even if you don’t think of it in spiritual terms, the rest of us still overvalue and overestimate the extremely limited ceiling of relying on common knowledge to make our decisions.
For the majority of us, when we are struggling and we don’t know where to go, we don’t turn to psychics and magicians…
There are new sorcerers and enchanters in town: They’re called Bloggers and Podcasters.
Or we turn to our friends on Facebook…we crowdsource
Or, if you’re unsure about what to do with your troublesome toddler or rebellious teenager?
No problem, jump on Instagram or Facebook, because there are hundreds of “Mom Blogs” as I call them who have just the wisdom you need!
But some of us go a step beyond that and we get wisdom from our friends, our family.
We ask them for advice on our most difficult issues
Should I start having kids?
Should I move?
How do I get happy again?
And…we should do ask for their advice in all of these things!
Why not look for help…for advice?
Part of wisdom is drawing on the knowledge and experience of others!
The Bible itself says it’s the fool that doesn’t ask for advice.
So yes, ask for advice! Ask for it a lot!
But be wise about the limitations of it
Because all of our bloggers and all of your friends have the same limitations that the astrologers of Babylon had: They can only really work with the data in front of them.
They can only give advice and make decisions off of what they know and see (which is also extremely limited)
Even your friends & family who may love you dearly are still severely limited in understanding what God’s plan really is for your life
They don’t know what they don’t know
A HIGHER WISDOM
So what if we rethink our perspective of wisdom and direction
Take this shoe box here on this table: Let’s say that everything within this box represents the collective wisdom of a culture.
There’s a definitive ceiling (a cap) in terms of the wisdom that people and a culture can give you on “what is right” and “what decision you should make in your life”
But the wisdom of God is represented by everything outside of this box.
It is limitless, all knowing, all-seeing, and even outside of time.
See, the Babylonians thought they had all the power in the world and supposedly all the world’s wisdom, but they couldn’t figure out what to do next.
And that’s because all they had was what they could SEE…
And as soon as Nebuchadnezzar doesn’t tell them the dream…they’re powerless.
They’re limited…like a shoebox.
But all Daniel had to do was to pray.
Because when you pray…and you ask the God of Heaven…you take the lid off.
You’re calling upon a higher wisdom.
You’re busting through the limited ceiling of the limited knowledge and wisdom of human beings.
Is it too hard for God to tell Daniel what the dream was?
God gave that dream to Nebuchadnezzar in the first place!
I asked you earlier where in your life that you need wisdom/direction (at home, at work, in a relationship)?
Now let me ask you, where are you looking for wisdom?
Are you asking God for wisdom? For what to do?
I don’t know why it is, but so many of us, get so caught up in the world that we can spend two or three weeks (or longer) trying to find an answer to this thing that is frustrating you or confusing you, and yet, you haven’t even asked God yet.
“I’m trying to make all my decisions…stuck in a shoebox!
Trying to make decisions stuck in a dark and incredibly limited shoebox!!
It’s kind of crazy, but we fall into this habit all the time.
But don’t rely on the wisdom of the shoebox (the wisdom of the world) for direction.
(1 Corinthians 1:25) – NIV
For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
Think of it this way:
The Bible always compares God’s wisdom to our culture’s wisdom in this manner
(Colossians 2:8) - NIV
“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ”
“See, even the content of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream itself reveals the limitations of the prevailing thoughts of the day.
Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar that after this “great culture of Babylon” (that Nebuchadnezzar probably thought would never end)…will come another great culture…and another…and another…
And one day, this rock, not made of human hands…symbolic of the Kingdom of God…the Rock of Christ...will come into the earth…
(Show Statue Diagram Picture)
He’ll come during the fourth great empire (which the order of the empires is Babylon, Medes & Persians, Greece, and Rome)
Which, is when Christ came which is really cool.
And He’ll begin to spread through the earth…a new way
And you know what…every great kingdom that came after Babylon and ruled for a few hundred years…was just another shoebox of ideas.
It’s different. New ideas and thoughts!
Small, limited, and based on what they could see.
And one shoebox, just replaces another
And one day, another culture will supplant even American culture as the next great set of ideas…
But it’ll just be another shoebox with a limited ceiling of knowledge.
With no real answers to your toughest questions
But we can find wisdom through God’s word, the Bible, AND through talking to Him.
He never changes.
And so I just want to ask you this morning:
“Where have you been looking to the culture instead of a higher wisdom?”
Where do you keep leaning on the ways of the world or the advice of your friends without first consulting God?
Where you do need to finally take the lid off of the shoebox and access God’s higher knowledge?
Because He wants to speak into your life!
He can give you direction, wisdom, ideas in parenting little kids
He can give you wisdom and ideas on what to say to your friend who doesn’t know Jesus or your sister who’s walking away from Him.
No book, blogger, or even friend can tell you where to move, who to marry, or which job to take, but your God can.
Take the lid off!
This is the main point of the text in Daniel chapter 2: God’s wisdom is infinitely higher than the wisdom of the world!
Ask him for it!
(James 1:5) - NIV
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
So your mission this week is to go home and start asking God to speak to you personally in any area (no matter how big or small) that you need direction!
Your mission is to take the lid off in as many places as possible.
It’s to rethink your perspective on where we truly find wisdom and direction.
Start with asking him about a couple of things every day.
Even if just for a minute or two.
And I’m telling you…over time…he will speak to your heart.
And busting out of the shoebox…will change your life.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.