LIVING WITH INTEGRITY: Another Dick Emery Sermon.


You can hear Pastor Emery’s sermons here www.mohnshill.org

FOLLOWING CHRIST IN A PRECHRISTIAN WORLD PART III

“LIVING WITH INTEGRITY”

DANIEL 3

INTRODUCTION:

RICHARD CASTALDO WAS THE FIRST PERSON SHOT AND RACHEL JOY SCOTT WAS THE FIRST PERSON KILLED BY ERIC HARRIES AND DYLAN KLEBOLD AT COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL IN DENVER CO. ON APRIL 20, 1999

ONLY RICHARD WITNESSED THE FINAL MONENTS OF RACHEL’S LIFE. RACHEL AND RICHARD WERE SITTING ON THE GRASS OUTSIDE THE SCHOOL LIBRARY WHEN ERIC HARRIS AND DYLAN KLEBOLD APPROACHED THEM. WITHOUT WARNING, THE TWO YOUNG MEN OPENED FIRE, SEVERING RICHARD’S SPINE AND SHOOTING RACHEL TWICE IN HER LEGS AND ONCE IN HER TORSO. AS RICHARD LAY STUNNED AND RACHEL ATTEMTED TO CRAWL TO SAFETY, THE SHOOTERS BEGAN TO WALK AWAY, ONLY TO RETURN SECONDS LATER. AT THAT POINT, HARRIS GRABBED RACHEL BY HER HAIR, HELD HER HEAD UP, AND ASKED HER THE QUESTION, “DO YOU BELIEVE IN GOD?”

“YOU KNOW I DO,” RACHEL REPLIED.

“THEN GO BE WITH HIM,” RESPONDED HARRIS BEFORE SHOOTING HER IN THE HEAD.

FOUR BULLETS FROM ERIC HARRIS’S GUN KILLED RACHEL. HE AND DYLAN THEN WENT INTO THE SCHOOL AND AGGRESSIVELY, GLEEFULLY WALKED THE HALLS ON A KILLING RAMPAGE.

RACHEL SCOTT LEFT BEHIND SIX DIARIES AND SEVERAL ESSAYS ABOUT HER BELIEF IN GOD AND HOW SHE WANTED TO CHANGE THE WORLD THROUGH SMALL ACTS OF KINDNESS. CONTAINED IN ONE THESE DIARIES WERE FOUND THESE WORDS:

“IF BEING A CHRISTIAN WERE EASY, EVERYONE WOULD DO IT. NOT TO KNOW GOD, BUT TO HAVE THE EASY LIFE.”

“I AM NOT GOING TO APOLOGIZE FOR SPEAKING THE NAME OF JESUS——IF I HAVE TO SACRIFICE EVERYTHING—-I WILL!”

DANIEL, CHAPTER 3 CONTAINS THE STORY OF THREE YOUNG HEBREW MEN WHO WERE ASKED TO DO JUST THAT. (RELATE THE STORY IN VERSES 1-11)

THE INTEGRITY OF THESE YOUNG MEN WAS BEING TESTED. INTEGRITY IS BEING TRUE TO ONES WORDS OR TRUE TO ONESELF.

ANOTHER ONE OF THE QUOTES FOUND IN RACHEL SCOTT’S DIARY WAS THIS:

“DON’T LET YOUR CHARACTER CHANGE COLOR WITH YOUR ENVIRONMENT. FIND OUT WHO YOU ARE AND LET IT STAY YOUR TRUE COLOR.”

THESE THREE HEBREW YOUNG MEN WERE BEING PRESSURED TO CHANGE THE COLOR OF THEIR CHARACTER, TO COMPROMISE THEIR INTEGRITY.

TODAY YOU AND I LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE INTEGRITY IS CONSTANTLY BEING SACRIFICED ON THE ALTAR OF EXPEDIENCY. THIS IS WHERE WE ARE BEING ASKED TO LIVE OUT OUR FAITH, IN A WORLD WHERE MARRIAGES, FAMILIES, RESPECTED INSTITUTIONS AND EVEN THE CHURCH ARE OFTEN BEING UNDERMINED BY A LACK OF INTEGRITY.

TODAY, FROM THE CONTEXT OF THE STORY IN DANIEL 3, I WANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT KEEPING OUR INTEGRITY INTACT IN SUCH AN ENVIRONMENT. THERE IS A COST WHEN WE CHOOSE TO DO SO.

BEFORE WE DO THAT I WANT TO BEGIN BY POINTING OUT THAT THERE IS, ULTIMATELY, A HIGHER COST IN NOT DOING SO.

*WHAT IS THE COST OF COMPROMISING OUR INTEGRITY?

  1. WE DAMAGE OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.

AS PROFESSED FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST, WE CANNOT COMPROMISE OUR INTEGRITY AND MAINTAIN A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AT THE SAME TIME. DON’T MISUNDERSTAND. I’M NOT SAYING THAT IT CAUSES GOD TO LOVE US LESS, BUTCOMPROMISING OUR INTEGRITY CREATES A BARRIER BETWEEN GOD AND US. IT CHANGES OUR ATTITUDE TOWARD HIM. YOU AND I CANNOT HAVE GOD’S BLESSING ON OUR MARRIAGES, OUR FAMILIES, OUR BUSINESSES, OUR CAREERS,ETC.,WITHOUT HAVING OUR INTEGRITY IN PLACE.

(KING DAVID)

PSALM 32:3-4 “WHEN I KEPT SILENT, MY BONES WASTED AWAY THROUGH MY GROANING ALL DAY LONG. FOR DAY AND NIGHT YOUR HAND WAS HEAVY UPON ME: MY STRENGTH WAS SAPPED AS IN THE HEAT OF SUMMER.”

WE MAY COME TO WORSHIP SERVICE, GO THROUGH ALL THE MOTIONS AND EVEN, OCCASIONALLY, EXPERIENCE AN EMOTIONAL HIGH BUT WE REALLY CAN’T WORSHIP WHEN WE HAVE ALLOWED AN INTEGRITY ISSUE TO DISRUPT OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.

PSALM 15:1-5 “ LORD WHO MAY DWELL IN YOUR SANCTUARY? WHO MAY LIVE ON YOUR HOLY HILL? HE WHOSE WALK IS BLAMELESS AND WHO DOES WHAT IS RIGHTEOUS, WHO SPEAKS THE TRUTH FROM HIS HEART AND HAS NO SLANDER ON HIS TONGUE, WHO DOES HIS NEIGHBOR NO WRONG AND CASTS NO SLUR ON HIS FELLOW MAN, WHO DESPISES A VILE MAN BUT HONORS THOSE WHO FEAR THE LORD, WHO KEEPS HIS OATH EVEN WHEN IT HURTS, WHO LENDS HIS MONEY WITHOUT USURY AND DOES NOT ACCEPT A BRIBE AGAINST THE INNOCENT. HE WHO DOES THESE THINGS WILL NEVER BE SHAKEN.”

WE DAMAGE OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD WHEN WE COMPROMISE OUR INTEGRITY.

2.WE DAMAGE OUR SELFRESPECT AND OTHERS RESPECT OF US.

(PRICELESS COMMERCIALS/MASTER CARD)

YOU AND I CANNOT PLACE A MONETARY VALUE ON OUR INTEGRITY. IT’S PRICELESS. ONCE WE LOSE IT, IT’S HARD TO GET IT BACK.

PROVERBS 28:6 “BETTER A POOR MAN WHOSE WALK IS BLAMELESS THAN A RICH MAN WHOSE WAYS ARE PERVERSE.”

Proverbs 28:6 (NASV) “BETTER THE POOR MAN WHO WALKS IN INTEGRITY, THAN HE WHO IS CROOKED THOUGH HE BE RICH.”

“WHEN WEALTH IS LOST NOTHING IS LOST, WHEN HEALTH IS LOST SOMETHING IS LOST, WHEN CHARACTER IS LOST ALL IS LOST.”

2. WE DAMAGE CHRIST’S REPUTATION.

AS HEBREWS 6:6 STATES THIS CONCERNING THE PERSON WHO COMPROMISES THEIR INTEGRITY: “TO THEIR LOSS THEY ARE CRUCIFYING THE SON OF GOD ALL OVER AGAIN AND SUBJECTING HIM TO PUBLIC DISGARCE.”

SOME TIME AGO, POLLSTER GEORGE GALLUP, JR. TOLD A GROUP OF CHRISTIAN FUNDRAISERS THAT 42% OF AMERICANS DOUBTED THE HONESTY OF SOME, IF NOT MOST, APPEALS FOR RELIGIOUS DONATIONS. WHAT THEY REALLY DOUBT IS OUR INTEGRITY.

THE APOSTLE PAUL WRITES ABOUT THE VALUE OF INTEGRITY IN PROPOGATING THE CHRISTIAN FAITH WHEN HE SAYS TO HIS FRIEND, TITUS:

TITUS 2:9-10 “ TEACH SLAVES TO BE SUBJECT TO THEIR MASTERS IN EVERYTHING, TO TRY TO PLEASE THEM, NOT TO TALK BACK TO THEM, AND NOT TO STEAL FROM THEM, BUT TO SHOW TO THEM THEY CAN BE FULLY TRUSTED, SO THAT IN EVERY WAY THEY WILL MAKE THE TEACHING ABOUT GOD OUR SAVIOR ATTRACTIVE.”

GHANDI; “I WOULD BE A CHRISTIAN IF YOUR CHRISTIANS WERE MORE LIKE YOUR CHRIST.”

WE PAY AN EXTREMELY HIGH PRICE WHEN, AS PROFESSED FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST, WE COMPROMISE OUR INTEGRITY.

THERE IS ALSO A HIGH PRICE TO BE PAID IN MAINTAINING OUR INTEGRITY UNDER PRESSURE. THE THREE YOUNG HEBREW MEN IN BABYLON FOUND THIS OUT. AND SO, WE RETURN TO THE STORY IN DANIEL 3. WHAT WE LEARN FROM THE EXAMPLE OF THESE YOUNG MEN WILL HELP US TO ANSWER THE NEXT QUESTION:

HOW DO WE WEATHER THE TEST WITH OUR INTEGRITY INTACT?

THESE YOUNG MEN FACED BEING THROWN, LITERALLY, INTO A BLAZING FIRE IF THEY WOULD NOT COMPROMISE THEIR INTEGRITY. YOU AND I MAY NOT FACE BEING THROWN INTO AN ACTUAL FIRE BUT, WE SHOULDN’T BE SURPRISED WHEN OUR INTEGRITY IS TESTED IN THE FIRE OF PEER PRESSURE AND PUBLIC OPINION. WHAT DO WE DO WHEN THAT HAPPENS? WHAT DOES THE RESPONSE OF THESE YOUNG MEN IN ANCIENT BABYLON TEACH US?

1. BE PREPARED FOR IT. THE JEALOUS WISEMEN FROM KING NEBUCADNEZZAR’S COURT REPORTED TO THE KING:

VERSE 12 “BUT THERE ARE SOME JEWS WHOM YOU HAVE SET OVER THE AFFAIRS OF THE PROVINCE OF BABYLON-SHADRACH, MESHACH AQND ABEDNAGO—WHO PAY NO ATTENTION TO YOU O KING. THEY NEITHER SERVE YOUR GODS NOR WORSHIP THE IMAGE OF GOLD YOU HAVE SET UP.”

THE IMPLICATION IS THAT THE THREE YOUNG HEBREW MEN DIDN’T HESITATE BECAUSE THEIR REFUSAL TO WORSHIP THE GOD’S OF BABYLON HAD BEEN DECIDED LONG BEFORE HAND.

PREPARATION IS THE KEY TO WINNING IN THE HEAT OF BATTLE. GREAT COACHES EMPHASISE TO THEIR TEAMS THAT PREPARATION IS THE KEY TO WINNING. HOW THEY PREPARE IS USUALLY HOW THEY PLAY THE GAME.

THE SMALL CHOICES WE MAKE IN THE EVRYDAY FLOW OF LIFE, THE VALUES WE ADOPT WHEN THINGS ARE FAIRLY NORMAL WILL DETERMINE THE CHOICES WE MAKE WHEN THE HEAT IS ON. ONE OF THE WISEST MEN WHO EVER LIVED WROTE: “IT’S THE LITTLE FOXES THAT SPOIL THE VINE.”

BE PREPARED FOR THE TIME WHEN YOUR INTEGRITY IS TESTED BY MAKING RIGHT DECISIONS IN THE NORMAL FLOW OF LIFE.

2. ALWAYS KEEP THE PRICE TAG ON YOUR INTEGRITY HIGHER THAN ANY OTHER ITEMS IN THE STORE.

I READ ABOUT SOME PRANKTERS WHO BROKE INTO A STORE AT NIGHT AND DIDN’T STEAL ANYTHING, THEY JUST CHANGED ALL OF THE PRICE TAGS AROUND. YOU CAN IMAGINE THE HAVOC THIS CREATED THE NEXT DAY WHEN THE STORE OPENED FOR BUSINESS.

THAT IS ONE OF THE ADVERSARIES FAVORITE TACTICS IN OUR LIVES. HE TRIES TO CHANGE THE PRICE TAGS AROUND CHEAPENING OUR INTEGRITY, WHICH IS OUR MOST VALUABLE ASSET.

DAG HAMMERSKJOLDT, THE GREAT UN SECRETARY IN THE LAST CENTURY, WHO WAS A COMMITTED CHRISTIAN WROTE:”HE WHO WANTS TO KEEP HIS GARDEN TIDY DOESN’T RESERVE A PLOT FOR WEEDS.”

THE VALUABLE GROUND OF YOUR LIFE AND MINE SHOULD HAVE NO ROOM FOR THE COMPROMISE OF INTEGRITY. FOR THESE YOUNG HEBREW MEN IN BABYLON, INTEGRITY IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR GOD WAS MORE VALUABLE THAN ANYTHING ELSE IN THEIR LIVES, EVEN LIFE ITSELF.

THE STORY CONTINUES:

VERSES 13-18 “FURIOUS WITH RAGE, NEBUCHADNEZZAR SUMMONED SHADRACH, MESHACH AND ABDNEGO. SO THESE MEN WERE BROUGHT BEFORE THE KING, AND NEBUCHADNEZZAR SAID TO THEM, ‘IS IT TRUE, SHADRACH, MESHACH AND ABEDNAGO, THAT YOU DO NOT SERVE MY GODS OR WORSHIP THE IMAGE OF GOLD THAT I HAVE SET UP? NOW WHEN YOU HEAR THE SOUND OF THE HORN, FLUTE, ZITHER, LYRE, HARP PIPES AND ALL KINDS OF MUSIC, IF YOU ARE READY TO FALL DOWN AND WORSHIP THE IMAGE I MADE, VERY GOOD. BUT IF YOU DO NOT WORSHIP IT, YOU WILL BE THROWN IMMEDIATELY INTO A BLAZING FURNACE. THEN WHAT GOD WILL BE ABLE TO RESCUE YOU FROM MY HAND?

SHADRACH, MESHACH AND ABEDNAGO REPLIED TO THE KING, ‘O NEBUCHADNEZZAR WE DO NOT NEED TO DEFEND OURSELVES BEFORE YOU IN THIS MATTER. IF WE ARE THROWN INTO THE BLAZING FURNACE, THE GOD WE SERVE IS ABLE TO SAVE US FROM IT, AND HE WILL RESCUE US FROM YOUR HAND, O KING. BUT EVEN IF HE DOES NOT, WE WANT YOU TO KNOW, O KING, THAT WE WILL NOT SERVE YOUR GODS OR WORSHIP THE IMAGE OF GOLD YOU HAVE SET UP.’”

SHADRACH, MESHACH AND ABEDNEGO KEPT THE PRICE TAG OF ALLEGIANCE TO THEIT GOD HIGHER THAN ANY OTHER ITEM IN THE STORE OF THEIR LIFE. THEIR INTEGRITY IN THIS MATTER WAS EVEN MORE VALUABLE THAN THEIR PERSONAL SURVIVAL.

(THE WELL KNOWN PLAY AND MOVIE, “A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS” IS THE STORY OF SIR THOMAS MOORE’S REFUSAL TO APPROVE, AS LORD CHANCELLOR OF ENGLAND, KING HENRY THE VIII’S PLAN TO DIVORCE HIS WIFE AND REMARRY IN ORDER TO FATHER A MALE HEIR.HE REFUSES TO COMPROMISE HIS INTEGRITY BY GIVING VERBAL SANCTION TO THE ACT EVEN THOUGH HE IS THREATENED WITH EXECUTION. IN THE END MOORE PAYS THE ULTIMATE PRICE FOR KEEPING HIS INTEGRITY IN TACT.)

HOW HIGH A PRICE ARE YOU WILLING TO PLACE ON YOUR INTEGRITY?

THE THIRD THING WE LEARN FROM THE EXAMPLE OF THESE MEN IN DANIEL 3 TO HELP US KEEP OUR INTEGRITY INTACT WHEN THE HEAT IS ON IS THIS:

3. REMEMBER WHERE THE BATTLE LIES AND ENTRUST YOURSELF TO GOD.

SHADRACH, MESHACH AND ABEDNAGO RECOGNIZED THAT THIS WAS REALLY A BATTLE BETWEEN FALSEHOOD AND TRUTH, BETWEEN FALSE GODS AND THE TRUE GOD. THE BATTLE WAS NOT THEIRS THOUGH THEY WERE RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BATTLE FIELD. BY THE WAY, WE LIVE OUT OUR FAITH IN THE MIDDLE OF A BATTLE FIELD.

SINCE THE BATTLE IS NOT OURS THE ONLY THING WE CAN DO IS ENTRUST OURSELVES TO GOD. THAT’S WHAT SHADRACH, MESHACH AND ABEDNEGO DID.

VERSES 19-30 “THEN NEBUCHADNEZZAR WAS FURIOUS WITH SHADRACH, MESHACH AND ABEDNAGO, AND HIS ATTITUDE TOWARD THEM CHANGED. HE ORDERED THE FURNACE HEATED SEVEN TIMES HOTTER THAN USUAL AND COMMANDED SOME OF THE STRONGEST SOLDIERS TO TIE UP SHADRACH, MESHACH AND ABEDNEGO AND THROW THEM INTO THE BLAZING FURNACE. SO THESE MEN, WEARING THEIR ROBES, TROUSERS AND OTHER CLOTHES, WERE BOUND AND THROWN INTO THE BLAZING FURNACE. THE KING’S COMMAND WAS SO URGENT AND THE FURNACE SO HOT THAT THE FLAMES OF THE FIRE KILLED THE SOLDIERS WHO TOOK UP SHADRACH, MESHACH AND ABEDNAGO, AND THESE THREE MEN, FIRMLY TIED, FELL INTO THE BALZING FURNACE.

THEN KING NEBUCHANEZZAR LEAPED TO HIS FEET IN AMAZEMENT AND ASKED HIS ADVISERS, ‘WEREN’T THERE THREE MEN THAT WE TIED UP AND THREW INTO THE FIRE?’ THEY REPLIED, ‘CERTAINLY O KING.’

HE SAID, “LOOK! I SEE FOUR MEN WALKING AROUND IN THE FIRE, UNBOUND AND UNHARMED, AND THE FOURTH LOOKS LIKE THE SON OF THE GODS.’

NEBUCHADNEZZAR THEN APPROACHED THE OPENING OF THE BLAZING FURNACE AND SHOUTED, ‘SHADRACH, MESHACH, AND ABED NAGO, SERVANTS OF THE MOST HIGH GOD, COME OUT! COME HERE!’

SO SHADRACH, MESHACH AND ABEDNAGO CAME OUT OF THE FIRE, AND THE SATRAPS, PREFECTS GOVERNORS AND ROYAL ADVISERS CROWDED AROUND THEM! THEY SAW THAT THE FIRE HAD NOT HARMED THEIR BODIES, NOR WAS A HAIR OF THEIR HEADS SINGED; THEIR ROBES WERE NOT SCORCHED, AND THERE WAS NO SMELL OF FIRE ON THEM.

THEN NEBUCHADNEZZAR SAID, ‘PRAISE BE TO THE GOD OF SHADRACH, MESHACH AND ABEDNAGO, WHO HAS SENT HIS ANGEL AND HAS RESCUED HIS SERVANTS! THEY TRUSTED IN HIM AND DEFIED THE KINGS COMMAND AND WERE WILLING TO GIVE UP THEIR LIVES RATHER THAN SERVE OR WORSHIP ANY GOD EXCEPT THEIR OWN GOD. THEREFOE I DECREE THAT THE PEOPLE OF ANY NATION OR LANGUAGE WHO SAY ANYTHING AGAINST THE GOD OF SHADRACH, MESHACH AND ABEDNAGO BE CUT INTO PIECES AND THEIR HOUSES BE TURNED INTO PILES OF RUBBLE, FOR NO OTHER GOD CAN SAVE IN THIS WAY.’

THEN THE KING PROMOTED SHADRACH, MESHACH AND ABEDNAGO IN THE PROVINCE OF BABYLON.”

DAG HAMMERSKJOLD;

“IF I ASSUME ULTIMATE RESPONSIBILTY FOR MY WELFARE, WITHOUT FAIL, I WILL BE OFFERED A WAY TO SAVE MY OWN SKIN THAT WILL VIOLATE GOD’S LAW. IF I DOUBT GOD’S PROTECTION I WILL CUT AND RUN EVERY TIME.”

THERE ARE TIMES, WHEN THE HEAT IS ON, THAT ENTRUSTING MYSELF TO GOD IS THE ONLY WAY TO KEEP MY INTEGRITY IN TACT. THESE MEN DID SO WITH NO ASSURANCE THAT THEIR GOD WAS GOING TO RESCUE THEM. THAT, I BELIEVE IS THE ULTIMATE EXPRESSIONOF FAITH.

ANOTHER OLD TESTAMENT FIGURE BY THE NAME OF JOB CAME TO THAT SAME PLACE WHEN EVERYTHING WAS TAKEN FROM HIM, EVEN HIS HEALTH. HIS EXPRESSION OF FAITH IN HIS GOD WAS THESE WORDS;

JOB 13:15 “THOUGH HE SLAY ME YET WILL I HOPE IN HIM”

AS FOR THESE THREE HEBREW MEN IN BABYLON, EVEN HAD THEY DIED IN THE FIRE, THEIR DEATH WOULD HAVE SUBVERTED THE POWER OF THE AUTHORITIES TO CRUSH INTEGRITY AND TO SILENCE TRUTH. THE DEATH OF JESUS, ON THE CROSS, IS THE ULTIMATE EXPRESSION OF THIS TRUTH.

LET ME ASK YOU. WHO IS ON THE THRONE OF YOUR LIFE? HOW MUCH DO YOU REALLY VALUE THE FAITH YOU PROFESS? WHERE WILL YOU STAND WHEN PUSH COMES TO SHOVE? AS A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST ARE YOU READY TO PAY WHATEVER THE PRICE TO KEEP YOUR INTEGRITY INTACT IN A PRE-CHRISTIAN WORLD?

SHADRACH, MESHACH AND ABEDNEGO WOULDN’T BOW, THEY WOULDN’T BEND AND THEY WOULDN’T BURN.

“I AM NOT GOING TO APOLOGIZE FOR SPEAKING THE NAME OF JESUS” SAID RACHEL SCOTT, IN ONE OF HER DIARIES FOUND AFTER HER EXECUTION AT COLUMBINE HIGH SCHHOOL, “IF I HAVE TO SACRIFICE EVERTHINGIWILL.”

AND SHE DID. WOULD YOU?

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One response to “LIVING WITH INTEGRITY: Another Dick Emery Sermon.

  1. Ron Vander Griend

    If you have a chance learn and listen from Hugo’s last words. They said he died of a heart attack, strange since he was being treated for cancer. They said he could no longer talk but listen to his last word. “do not let me die”. Did he possibility see his eternity moments before he died. What a difference when a believer looks forward to meeting our Lord and Savior.

    _____

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