Living Like Jesus in the Middle of Babylon

Tulsa SDA

I am writing today from my beautiful hometown, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

We as Adventists believe that in the last days there will be a showdown between spiritual Babylon and those who have the seal of God, who reflect the character of Jesus. While Daniel had his haters, it amazes me how he seemed to thrive and even found favor among the leaders of Babylon and Persia. Daniel was not one to compromise his standards. The life of Daniel shows us that it is possible to live a life of uncompromising integrity and still get along with those of different beliefs and lifestyles. Years later Paul wrote,

For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, Titus 2:11-12 NLT

We can’t wait for heaven to live a righteous life. God’s grace empowers us to reflect Christ’s character in this evil world. Daniel is an example of how we can be like Jesus in the midst of corruption. Let’s take a look.

Then Daniel went in to see Arioch, whom the king had ordered to execute the wise men of Babylon. Daniel said to him, “Don’t kill the wise men. Take me to the king, and I will tell him the meaning of his dream.” Daniel 2:24 NLT

When Daniel received the vision the king had dreamed his first thought was to save the lives of the wicked wise men. Jesus always put the salvation of others first. The wise men in Daniel’s day were preserved by the integrity of Daniel. In Genesis 12;3 God said all the families of the earth (not just believers) would be blessed by the Messiah. Likewise even the unbelievers of Daniel’s day were blessed by Daniel’s integrity. In the last days I believe men and women of God will be a blessing to the evil world around them.

I marvel at Daniel’s humility.  In Daniel 1:20 Daniel and his friends were found to be ten times wiser than the other wise men, but look at what Daniel says when he tells the king his dream.

And it is not because I am wiser than anyone else that I know the secret of your dream, but because God wants you to understand what was in your heart. Daniel 2:30 NLT

Daniel did not claim to have any special wisdom and neither did Jesus. Jesus always pointed the people to the Scriptures instead of spouting off like a know-it-all. Daniel did not claim to have any special abilities and neither did Jesus. Look at what Jesus says about Himself,

“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. John 5:19 NLT

Look at what Jesus says about others who believe.

I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. John 14:12 NLT

Daniel lived a life of uncompromising integrity in the midst of Babylon and Persia. Amidst his haters he more than survived, he thrived and found favor even among wicked rulers. Some blame corruption in the workplace for being passed over for promotions, but God promoted Daniel right in the heart of all the corruption. God can promote you too anytime anywhere. Jesus lived a life of uncompromising integrity in the heart of the Roman Empire and may I also say a corrupt religious system.  He too had His haters but He too found favor “with both God and man” and was able to tell His Father,

I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. John 17:4

Daniel lived a life of uncompromising integrity and thrived among all the corruption of Babylon. Jesus lived a life of uncompromising integrity and thrived amid pagan Rome and a religious system that left a lot to be desired. So today, in the midst of spiritual Babylon by God’s grace we can live a life of uncompromising integrity and make friends along the way.

You may study the Sabbath School Lessons on Daniel here. 

Trusting God Instead of Knucklehead Ideas

20180122_145307660200005.jpg

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

The question is asked on Tuesday’s section of this week’s lesson, “In what ways have you discovered for yourself the true spiritual blessings that come from paying tithe? How has paying tithe helped increase your faith?”

After returning home to Tulsa from Southern Adventist University, I got a job at Taco Bell, and at 19 years old moved into my own apartment. It was a nice junior one bedroom. My rent was only $200.00 a month. What I would give to take my current salary and go back to those days! My parents both served as treasurers for the Tulsa First SDA Church for decades. They had instilled in me the importance of tithe. My dad always says, “Church’s don’t have financial problems. They have spiritual problems.” If everyone sacrificed and gave systematically as the Bible says, the church will always have enough.  While paying an honest tithe, even while barely making above minimum wage I had no problems paying my bills. I remember getting bills in the mail and going inside and writing a check to pay them right away. I did not need to wait until the due date. God was blessing.

Funny thing is, as I started making more money I started running into financial issues. I had a budget, but did not carefully watch myself during the month, thinking I had plenty of money. Still in my early twenties, I got a job working in the warehouse of a business forms company, making almost twice as much as I was at Taco Bell. Not keeping close track of what I was spending, I ran into financial problems, and for the first time started falling behind on my bills. I had recently transferred to a smaller church outside Tulsa, where I was serving as an elder.

I was the youngest elder in the Oklahoma conference and the most immature too, as I came up with a knucklehead idea for my new financial problems. Had I still been in the church where my parents were treasures I probably never would have done this. I had recently been promised a reasonable raise at work, but every week it failed to show on my pay check. So I decided to use all my money to pay my bills, and stop returning tithe until I got my raise. Each week I recorded what my tithe was so I could pay it once my raise came, but week after week there was no raise on my check. I recorded what I owed in tithe to pay once my raise came. The tithe was adding up. Finally one night after a group Bible study I told an older lady in my church that I felt bad not being able to tithe, but that I would tithe once my raise showed up on my check. She said firmly, “William you are not going to get your raise until you return your tithe.” Now I knew good and well that people get raises all the time who never tithe. However I knew too, that God is a personal God, and He was speaking to me through my older friend.

We received our paychecks every Friday, but the following Friday I did not go into work as I had too much overtime. Yes, God was blessing me with overtime while I was waiting on my raise and even withholding my tithe. Even though I did not get my paycheck on Friday, I returned my full tithe that Sabbath. I did not know what I was going to do, but I knew I had to do what was right.

Monday morning I went into work and picked up the paycheck that had been lying in my box since Friday. I opened it up and there was my raise! Was the raise a blessing? Yes! But the greatest blessing was knowing a God of love was watching over me, and even speaking to me through my older friend in my Bible study group. He loves me and takes care of me. All I have to do is trust in Him instead of my knucklehead ideas!