A few months ago Pastor Tim did a series on “who do you want to be.” That got me thinking. Before we think about who we want to be, we need to know who we are.
So that brings me to today’s sermon title. Who are you?
Statistically speaking around the world people answer this question differently. In the United States people tend to answer this question in an individualistic way like what you do for work and what activities you like.
In other countries people answer it relationally. I am a friend to my friends
To get a complete picture we need to answer this question both ways.
I am a man. I am a PA. I am a soccer player. I am a steelers fan. I am a father to my kids. I am a husband to my wife. I am a son to my parents. I am a brother to my sister.
I am a Christian, I am a believer. I am a leader.
I am a servant to my community, I am a helper to my neighbor, I am a brother in Christ , I am a child of God. I am the victor the world is waiting for to bring them to freedom. (if you’ve been here for a couple years you should be familiar with that last reference)
When you face trials, you need to know how to answer this question.
Daniel the captive
Daniel was taken from his family around 16 years old or so to a foreign country, possibly turned into a eunuch and as such wouldn’t be accepted back into the religious life of the jews. All he had was a couple friends and God.
He was told that he would be trained and taught all the cultures and knowledge of the new kingdom. He and all the other young men were given all the kings food and drink, but Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah all said no because they knew they weren’t supposed to based on the laws passed down from Moses. The food was not prepared according to their Jewish laws and it was most likely offered to idols prior to being given to them. Daniel trusted God to take care of him and his friends. He very well could have just went with the crowd. He was already thousands of miles from home and not going to be accepted back into the community anyway, but he relied on his relationship with God. He knew that despite his circumstances, he could rely on his God to take care of him and as a result he and his friends were appointed to be advisors in the palace.
Then fast forward a couple years…
Daniel the Advisor
One night during the second year of his reign,[a] Nebuchadnezzar had such disturbing dreams that he couldn’t sleep. 2 He called in his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers,[b] and he demanded that they tell him what he had dreamed. As they stood before the king, 3 he said, “I have had a dream that deeply troubles me, and I must know what it means.”
4 Then the astrologers answered the king in Aramaic,[c] “Long live the king! Tell us the dream, and we will tell you what it means.”
5 But the king said to the astrologers, “I am serious about this. If you don’t tell me what my dream was and what it means, you will be torn limb from limb, and your houses will be turned into heaps of rubble! 6 But if you tell me what I dreamed and what the dream means, I will give you many wonderful gifts and honors. Just tell me the dream and what it means!”
Nebuchadnezzar has a dream and calls his wise men together to tell him what his dream was and what it meant.
Obviously no one could do that. but the king was angry and ordered all the wise men to be killed. When the soldier came to Daniel to kill him he asked what was going on and then went to the king to ask for time to give him an answer. He then immediately went to his brothers and said we need to pray.
He knew that he was unable to do what was asked, but he also knew that he served the God of heaven and earth. He knew that his position and title and wisdom didn’t come from himself but that he was God’s man and had faith that God would take care of him. He knew who he was in this moment. He was God’s representative and God’s conduit to reach the king of Babylon.
He even said to the King:
30 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.
As a result, Daniel was promoted over all the wise men of Babylon.
These young men knew who they were and what they were about. They had prepared themselves for situations like this. They knew the scriptures and had already resolved within themselves to follow them.
It is easier to resist temptation and sin when you have prepared yourself. You know right from wrong because you have studied and have prayed and have that head knowledge and heart knowledge of “This is what I am supposed to do. This is who I am. This is what I know God expects of me.”
How do we know this information you may ask? READ YOUR BIBLE
Daniel facing the lions
Lets jump ahead in Daniel’s life to one of the most famous stories in the Old Testament.
At this point Daniel is roughly 80 years old. A new kingdom of the Medes and Persians has been established since Nebuchadnezzar’s heir was assassinated. He has been recognized once again as a man of integrity and wisdom and therefore promoted as chief over the governors of the entire land.
The other governors are jealous and end up tricking the king into signing a law stating that anyone who prays to anyone or anything except the king for 30 days will be thrown into the lions’ den.
“But 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.”
He knows exactly what is going on. He knows this is a trap for him, but he also knows that it doesn’t matter.
He knows who he is and that the most important thing is his relationship with God. So he goes home and prays. But also notice it says he prays three times a day just as he has always done.
He was prepared for this. He spent his life dedicating himself to a deeper relationship with God. He knew he was a man of integrity. He was seen by God. This situation wasn’t a surprise to God. No law was going to change his attitude or actions because he had full faith in who he was and who God was. He knew God was faithful and loving and a protector.
He was ultimately thrown into the lions den and he trusted God to protect him. When the king came the next morning this was their conversation:
20 When he got there, he called out in anguish, “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?”
21 Daniel answered, “Long live the king! 22 My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.”
He maintained who he was. He continued to show he was a man of integrity.
He honored the king for he knew the king did not put him in that position intentionally.
He gave glory to God who rescued him.
He reinforced to the king that he had not done anything against him and that God had found him innocent.
How many people know that God has a sense of humor?
When I started preparing this sermon honestly my life was easy. Then God must have said ok… you’re working on this sermon, now I want to see you live it out.
Started having issues at work with my team, then started hearing that some of the higher ups were questioning my loyalties and wanting me to be demoted.
I’m not going to lie. I got angry, frustrated, emotionally worn out, and briefly considered putting in my resignation. And then I heard that little voice saying “who are you?” That’s the kicker. It doesn’t matter how you feel. It doesn’t matter what your circumstances are. It just matters WHO you are and WHOSE you are.
So I started praying for the people who were causing me stress and you know what happened? Things started to get better. One of the people causing me issues actually was having a physical problem and I was able to pray for them and they said that was the best night of sleep they had in weeks and asked me to pray for them again and again. Then a lot of my team started to rally around me and support me. Although we aren’t fully through our issues, we are moving forward together as a team.
If you were to ask those around you who you are what would they say?
I’m going to embarrass coach Kozik here for a minute. A man of integrity story.
What does the Bible say you are?
I am a child of God Gal 3:16
I am an Heir Rom 8:17
I am Loved 1 John 4:19
I am Chosen 1Thes 1:4
I am Forgiven 1 John 2:12
I am a Conqueror Rom 8:37
I am Strong Phil 4:13
I am Understood Psalm 139:1
I am Seen Genesis 16:13
I am a Friend John 15:15
Nowhere does it say I am a failure. I am a loser. I am stupid. I am lost. I am forgotten. I am alone.
Those kinds of thoughts and mentalities are not of God.
God made you. He made you perfectly the way he wanted to.
There are so many examples of stories in the Bible of people who faced horrible circumstances, but knew who they were and God was faithful to them every time.
Paul in prison singing despite his circumstances
David vs Goliath
Caleb as a spy
Jesus vs the devil
If you read your Bible, you see Gods love and provision over and over again. That God of the Bible is the same God we serve today. Those people in the Bible weren’t extraordinary people. They were just people like you and me who knew who they were and who God is. That’s all it takes.
God made you perfectly. He made you who you are. You just need to know who that is. We just talked about the life of one man and the impact he was able to have because he knew who he was. Imagine if we all knew and truly believed who we are and who God has made us to be.
So I encourage you that if you don’t know how to answer the question who are you? start by reading your Bible and praying. And if you feel like you feel forgotten, alone, overlooked, powerless, lost, misunderstood, fearful, hopeless or anything along those lines, know that God has called you and made you for so much more. As always, there will be some of the ministry team up here to pray with you if you are struggling with this or if you need prayer for anything else.