Cancel Culture: Past and Present

Examining How Christians Should Respond To Cancel Culture.

Matthew Maher
Mar 14, 2021    46m
By Examining the story of Daniel we can learn how Christians should respond to cancel culture. As Christians, we are called to live with integrity, and to stand up for God's word, no matter what our circumstances in life are. Video recorded at Ocean City, New Jersey.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Matthew Maher: 00:00 Good morning church. I'm looking to get right into the book, time is short, at least with the amount of content that I have. Pastor Matt was asked to do a funeral last minute. So after Thursday night service, we kind of met in the back and he was trying to decide if he could actually honor that commitment, which is on this day, this morning, and if I would redeliver Thursday's message. So here's Thursday night on a Sunday morning, might not be some of your cup of tea, but guess what? I don't care, I've got the pulpit.

Matthew Maher: 00:30 So of course, if you're following Jesus, there is no turning back. And if you're a pastor, a preacher, a minister of the gospel, there's no holding back. So I'm not going to hold back with the message this morning. I want to highlight the fact that it is the church of Jesus Christ and the disciple of Jesus Christ. Now, I mentioned the church of Jesus Christ and the disciple of Jesus Christ, because I want to separate that context, which is a biblical context, from the American context. I am gonna make sure we hear the heart of God has nothing to do with American Christianity, the American church. Because it's the integrity of the true Christian throughout history, and it's the integrity of the church throughout history, who have contributed to society, the righteous behavior, the righteous interactions and responses. It has been the church and the Christian from the foundations of hospitals, orphanages, food banks, from philanthropy causes, humanitarian causes, with the gospel following it. All of these, historically, are because of the integrity of the Christian.

Matthew Maher: 01:37 Now, it should be no surprise that the non-believing world is threatened by integrity, because integrity, which isn't just being honest, it's not honesty, it's being tethered to truth and launched in love. Integrity comes with accountability and responsibility to a divine law, a higher standard. So if you're living by way of integrity, you are righteous, you will inevitably expose lawlessness. And because the non-believing world might lack that integrity, biblical integrity, they will feel threatened by your conduct. Righteous behavior exposes lawlessness. Jesus said, this is the judgment, ready, that the light has come into the world, Jesus was speaking of himself. And because the light has come into the world, it has exposed that men love darkness. Why? Because their deeds are evil, and being under the sway of the wicked one, that's First John chapter 5 verse 19.

Matthew Maher: 02:28 We are of God, we are born again. We are vertically born of God, horizontally, we are reflections of God. We are of God, but the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. He is the puppet master, the Bible calls him the prince of the power of the air, the Bible calls him the god of this age. This is his domain, we're just in the way. The church is supposed to push back darkness. Now, one of their tactics, at least one of the plays or strategies from the playbook of the enemy is to manipulate the laws of the land to entrap the faithful by declaring righteous behavior as unlawful, and unlawful or immoral behavior as commendable. They affirm immorality, that's Isaiah chapter 5 verse 20, "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" Woe to those who call a man a woman, and a woman a man. And at the buzzwords that the world uses, we're about inclusivity, we're inclusive they say. We're about diversity, you bigot Christians, we're about tolerance, right? And if you go against the narrative, you are the hater, you are the bigot.

Matthew Maher: 03:57 But if you're listening carefully, if you're seeing with a biblical worldview, you will notice that the world's invitation to unity, join us, is actually an invitation to conformity. They want you to conform to the patterns of this world, and if you don't, if you don't unify, you will be vilified, the target will be on your life. This is an age old scheme, this is nothing new. This is again, the number one strategy of the enemy, he is going to pit the state of any government against the state of the church or the Christian, because he wants you to make a decision to pledge allegiance to either God or government. Now you might say, wait, are those two at odds? I'm saying, no, they are when you have atheistic ideologies, atheistic political strategies, that are at work in governmental policies. You have secular humanism, which is edging God out. You have progressivism, you have socialism, you have communism, and in all of those isms, there is no higher authority than the institution itself.

Matthew Maher: 05:17 Throughout the ages, this is the way the enemy has sidelined the people of God, this is what we see in the Book of Daniel. This isn't just the American context, and what we're seeing in our government, where the Christian and the faith of that Christian needs to meet the rubber of the road, right, separation of church and state is one of his tactics. Again, please, every single time I bring this up, people comment online or they'll follow up one of my posts with, what about separation of church and state? You're not supposed to bring politics into the pulpit. No, that comment alone is political. Politics is caring for the affairs of any given community, that's what the word politics means. I care about the affairs of any given community, the society, or what's happening nationally. Politics is the highest form of community because it adds morality with sociability, and the Christian and the church is the conscience of any given nation, we are the ones who understand divine order. Separation of church and state in the American context has the church sidelined, you stay in your Christian bubble, you stay on the sidelines, you don't worry about what's happening here. Meanwhile, what's happening here is affecting families and communities, right into the public school system, curriculum, teaching kindergartners and first graders about sex, all types of sex. How did that happen? I'll tell you how it happened, the church and the Christian were sleeping under lie, the falsely defined and wrongly applied, separation of church and state.

Matthew Maher: 07:08 But if we don't believe that lie, here's the tactic, submission of church to state. No, we're going to get involved in community because we're salt and we're light, so then they try to get you to submit to the state. This is what we see in Daniel chapter 6 verse 5, listen here, "Then these men (Conspiring against Daniel, who has God's favor and man's favor for over 70 years.) “We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.” Are you seeing this? Their tactic to deal with Daniel, and his faithfulness, was through a political stream. That if we can get the law of the land to conflict with the law of his God, we have him where we want him. Believer's answer to a higher authority, and we are forced to choose God over government, whenever the government mandates an action that is in violation of God's commandments.

Matthew Maher: 08:12 Daniel chapter 3, a famous and familiar account of the Hebrew boys being thrown into the fiery furnace. That was a consequence, if they did not bow down, that was a governmental decree. That if you don't bow down to the idol, you will be thrown into the fiery furnace. And I love it, because we don't know how long that it happened, that every single day, when the music would play and the sea of people would bow down. We don't know how long those three Hebrew boys, teenagers by the way, young ones in here, were unwilling to compromise. I can imagine the first time it happened, they were probably looking around, nobody might've seen them. But as they kept standing up for truth, why, because they would rather, and I would rather, stand alone with Jesus than sit in a crowd without him. They eventually were thrown into the fiery furnace, but it was in the furnace where they experienced Jesus. Daniel chapter 6, with the lion den, same thing, the government said, you can't pray, you can't petition God. And Daniel going, I'm going to petition my God because I have a fear of him more than a fear of man.

Matthew Maher: 09:16 The mandates of divine law, which would include the three P's, preaching, praying, and praising, divine law in any area of life. When I say preaching, I'm not just talking about what's happening right here. Preaching the gospel is not just verbally, it's also visually, how you live. Your pulpit is your workplace, and the message that you're propagating where God has placed you, may be in a secular and hostile environment. That's your pulpit, what messages are you putting out for your non-believing coworkers, family members, and friends, to see in the way you conduct yourself? In Daniel, it says that he was favored because he was blameless. And his employer, the King, he recognized it, this man's different. I'm going to be that type of Christian, where I don't have to say I'm a Christian, people just observe it. Praying, praising, publicly, these are the mandates of divine law.

Matthew Maher: 10:19 My brother was told in high school, it was one of the services during graduation season, it was a religious service where he was going to pray over the ceremony. And he was told pray, but don't pray in the name of Jesus. So he stepped out to the podium in front of his peers, and he prayed in the name of Jesus. Now many would assume that was being defiant, and I go, no that's being obedient. Yeah, but he could perhaps have offended those there that didn't believe in Jesus. Yeah, but it's about offending people or offending God, which one are you going to choose? See integrity is doing the righteous thing regardless of the circumstance and the consequence. Integrity is willing to please God and offend him in nothing. I don't want to offend God in anything.

Matthew Maher: 11:16 Proverbs 10:9, "He who walks with integrity walks securely." That's why integrity binds us to God's favor. I want God's favor in my life, I don't know about you church, but I want God to favor me and everything I say and do, and the only way to find God's favor is to walk in integrity. Proverbs chapter 11 verse 3 says, "The integrity of the upright will guide them like a compass, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them." Integrity also doesn't bend under fire, it doesn't bend under pressure. Integrity doesn't compromise because of peer pressure, because the crowd's doing it, because everybody is joining in, because of a narrative that the whole world is propagating and believing. I.

Matthew Maher: 12:01 Integrity is able to stand under the pressure and not fold, under temptation like Joseph in Genesis 39. He's already a slave in Potiphar's house, betrayed by his own brethren. And in Potiphar's house, the Bible keeps telling us over and over, and God favored Joseph, God blessed the things that Joseph did. And I go, wait a second, that's remarkable because Joseph was doing the next righteous thing in spite of his circumstances. And then Potiphar, his wife made sexual passes at Joseph, and I've read it this morning, it happened several days in a row. So every single day she'd come to him, very probably provocatively, trying to get this young slave to take advantage of her. Well, he knew one thing, and I love it because it says, he not only fled from her, but in the dialogue, he goes, how could I do this to not only your husband, entrusting with everything in his house except you. How could I do this wickedness in the sight of God. He was more concerned about what his God thought than his own feelings. Joseph fled, Joseph ran away. Men in here, Joseph clicked away when the picture popped up on the screen, Joseph shut the computer. Joseph was unwilling to entertain the temptation, that's what integrity does, it does not bend under fire.

Matthew Maher: 13:24 Job, chapter 1 and chapter 2 in Job, you see a man who is being attacked by Satan himself under God's allowance, God allowed this to happen. And he loses not only his property, his livelihood, he loses ten children. I mean, wrap your minds around that, ten of his children in one fell swoop gone, you're talking about grief unbearable. In the very next chapter, you see the enemy come again and he tries to get God, incite God, against Job. And God actually says, there's no one like Job because he's not only upright, blameless, he's integrity filled, he fears me, and he shuns evil. And then the enemy goes at his physical man, from boils from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. All right now, at this particular point, you've got to understand something, Job's wife has seen enough. She comes to him and she says, are you still going to hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die. And he says, woman, you speak as a foolish woman speaks, should we only accept good from God and not adversity? And in that response, that's what integrity does, integrity does not indict God when circumstances in our life don't go the way we planned. Because if I believe God is good all the time, we just sang about it, then no matter what has touched my life, I can land on the fact that God's got this, God is good, God's in control, and my integrity will not break under that pressure.

Matthew Maher: 15:08 And finally, Daniel, Daniel is going to be immovable. He's going to stand firm on God's power, even against cancel culture. You thought cancel culture was something that's just happening presently, cancel culture is something that the enemy has been about historically. Did you hear about the breaking news, the latest target of cancel culture? Are you up to date with that? They have recently targeted Pepe Le Pew, oh yes, the Looney Tunes skunk is canceled, apparently he's a sexual deviant. And if you just said to yourself, man, that really stinks, you ain't woke enough. From Mr. Potato head being gender neutralized, from Dr. Seuss taking flack, as opposed to these disgusting lyrics from these rappers and these singers out there that nobody's talking about. We want to cancel children's books, really? This is the enemy. Why? Because if you can silence and sensor and cancel the truth, the truth is what confronts lies. So we can sideline truth in the name of I'm offended.

Matthew Maher: 16:31 So this is what happens, are you ready, watch this. Verse 6, 'So these governors and satraps thronged..." The word throng means mob mentality. "...before the king, and said thus to him: “King Darius, live forever! 7All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions." Of course their flattery precedes their foolery, they have already conspired, they've planned, they've plotted. This is the agenda of the enemy and the non-believing world raging against God and trying to entrap the people of God.

Matthew Maher: 17:19 This is Psalm chapter 2, listen to the language here, "Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.” I mean, this is the pattern of the non-believing world, they want to push away the restraints of God, they want to go against God's compass, the moral compass that God gives us in his word. This is their strategy, this is the funnel I talk about all the time, at the bottom of that funnel, the church and the Christian are the eventual target. I hope you know that, right? They can go after conservative values all they want in this political party, you are at the bottom of that funnel, and the ultimate attack is against the church of Jesus Christ and the disciple of Jesus Christ. And God sits in the heavens and he laughs.

Matthew Maher: 18:26 It's the same exact tactic that they deployed against Jesus, Mark chapter 14 and Mark chapter 15. And you read, of course they took Jesus by night. Judas identified him, they took him by night because they were conspiring to take him outside of the law, you were not allowed to try a man at night. They'd take him to the high priest, the courts, and of course with false accusations being flung at Jesus Christ, they eventually take him to Pontius pilot, the Roman governor at the time, because he had the authority to execute lives under his law, they of course are able to put Jesus in a position where their plot seemingly is victorious. And we look around in our world and go, where's God, where's God at when all this evil's happening, I mean his very own son? And I go, spoiler alert, man plots, all of them, they fall perfectly into God's plans.

Matthew Maher: 19:32 Joseph, at the end of his life was able to look at his brothers and say to them, you meant evil against me, my God meant it for good. We know the cross was the very place that God the Father wanted his son, it was the very tool that God was going to use to salvage sinful humanity. The Bible actually tells us in First Corinthians chapter 2 verse 8, "If the rulers of this age knew..." Who are the rulers of this age, many Bible scholars believe it's talking about the devil and his minions, the spiritual rulers. If they knew what they were doing, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. Did you know that? They thought that they were with the upper hand, and all the while God was weaving his story of redemption through it all.

Matthew Maher: 20:28 Verse 8, "Now, O king, establish the decree and sign the writing, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which [a]does not alter.” Therefore King Darius signed the written decree." All right, here's the law of the Medes and the Persians, their governmental structure was a constitutional monarchy. The word constitutional should lend itself for you to go, wait a second, do we have a constitution? Yes, we have a constitution in the United States of America, it is the supreme law of our land. We are said to be a Constitutional Republic or a Constitutional Democracy, those two words are interchangeable. The Babylonian empire was a complete monarchy, the king was the law, whatever he said it went. And if he said something, he could retract it. The law of the Medes and Persians was a constitutional monarchy, the king would say something, sign it in law, and he couldn't retract it, the law was greater than even he.

Matthew Maher: 21:20 So when I read that, and this is what the scriptures do in my life, I stopped and I go, wow, something's not able to be altered, something's not able to be changed. What do I do as a Christian, when something in my life is set in stone, how do I respond? When circumstances in your world, they happen, you are blindsided, you can't change it. Maybe it's the loss of a loved one, you can't reverse that. You can't go back in the past and change the circumstances, you can't do it. Maybe it's a medical report, somebody in this room, a bad diagnosis, it's cancer, we need to do a further biopsy. You can't change that. How do you respond? What's your reaction in the midst of life's circumstances that cannot be reversed? Now let me tell you upfront, that to man, all circumstances that happen in that pattern are irreversible, there's nothing you can do in your own power. But to God, those circumstances are all redeemable. No matter what it is, the loss of a loved one, if they knew the Lord, they're no longer here temporarily, but God has recycled their life and they're now living out in eternity. And the work that he does in the heart of the loved one who's left behind, the pain sometimes gives way to joy, unspeakable in the midst of such sorrow, those of you who have experienced that grief will attest.

Matthew Maher: 22:54 Talking about an unfavorable diagnosis, I've ministered to, and I've witnessed, so many people in this fellowship with the cancer diagnosis. And though their bodies were failing, and falling apart, and dying rapidly, they would say, but I have such joy and peace about who my God is, I'm experiencing him even more than ever before. I'm going, that's God, you can't reverse that diagnosis, but God is redeeming it. Some of us in this room, we have histories, we can't change them, we don't even look back. Some of it is haunting, decisions we've made, things that have happened to us. Don't bring it up pastor, too much pain. I have one of those days in my life, it's actually March 7th, 2009, we just passed through it last Sunday. It was the 12th year anniversary from the night, the fateful night, where I made a decision that cost the life of a father, a brother, and a son, a 55 year old man named Hort Kap, March 7th, 2009. Every single year when March 7th comes around, I feel the weight of that decision, and I know I'm forgiven, trust me, I know the family forgave me, I get that. But I cannot not feel that gravity, it's irreversible, cannot be altered. Redemption? As only God would allow it, and as God would ordain it, this past Sunday, March 7th, 2021, God would allow my wife and I to welcome to this world my second child, my son, Ezekiel James Maher.
Matthew Maher: 24:40 I remember in the waiting room or the labor room watching it, oh, there he is. Actually, that's not really a picture of him, we just found something on the internet that looked really cute. No, it is, and in case you're wondering, how did we get that done so quick? Well, if you know my wife, the first stop after the hospital was not a pharmacy, it was not the pediatrician, it was a photo shoot. But I remember watching the clock as it got late into the evening on March 6th, I couldn't believe it, waiting for her to kind of go into the deeper contractions, and as 11:59 turned over to 12 midnight, I could not believe it, the very day that was set in stone for me. Not to mention, to watch my wife, Hebrews 6, calls it, "God does not forget those who labor in love." And I'm like, man, mom's in here, God is not going to forget the way you've labored in love to give of your body to birth a life. That's what Jesus did when he went to the cross. I can't think of too many other examples of giving of your body so selflessly, so self-sacrificially, to produce a life. And that is why the church of Jesus Christ was birthed when Jesus Christ went to that cross.

Matthew Maher: 26:06 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. When he knew the courts signed in the law, and it's going to touch the community. When he knew Congress passed the proposal, and it's going to affect our congregation, it says Daniel went home. He went home and defeat, he went home and retreat, he knew what he had to do, right? Pragmatism says, stay under the radar, there's consequence, Daniel. You might as well stay under the radar, don't rock the boat, don't ruffle any feathers, just last for 30 days, you don't have to pray to God for 30 days Daniel. You're at the end of your career, you're in your eighties, man. Like, come on, you are in a position of authority, I don't want to lose that. You don't wanna get fired from your job. You just put that Christian stuff aside for a moment, that's what Christian pragmatism says. Pragmatic people, hey, there's beauty and being practical, and reasonable, and weighing out the options. However, when you do that, when it comes to the things of God, you disqualify the miracle, you disqualify what God's going to do. Because pragmatic people will go wait a second, the law says nobody's to petition any man, except the king. If I do that, I'm going to be cast into the lion's den, I don't want to get cast into the lion's den, I'm not going to petition God.

Matthew Maher: 27:30 And Daniel's like, Nope, I'm going to do the righteous thing regardless of the consequence. Many reason that Daniel would have been better off not becoming a victim of this evil plot, right? Nope, wrong, there's no such thing as being a victim of integrity. You can only be a victor from integrity. Jesus said in Matthew 5, blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake, rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward where? In heaven for, so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. In other words, you worry about serving me, and I'll take care of the consequences, God says. You do what you can, you walk in your integrity, and you leave to me what you can't do. And what you can't do is control the enemy and their plot, I'll take care of them.

Matthew Maher: 28:33 Right now as I preach this message, there is a pastor in Canada, who's in prison. Did you know that? The pastor, what did he do, you say. He opened his church, he let people come out and he violated their provinces health orders. And every single time they came with fines, pragmatism would have had him say, we don't wanna pay fines. Right? We want to make sure we are upstanding citizens, and bowing to the government. No, no, he said, I don't care, I'm going to open my church. Because he understood something, that over the past year, the percentage increase on things such as suicide, suicidal ideation, depression, mental health, child abuse, spousal abuse is on the rise. 200, 300 and 400% increases. Why? Because if the enemy can isolate, he can dominate. And it's the church, and the church of Jesus Christ's role to be open. we're not non-essential. Pastor James Coats is doing the right thing, regardless of the consequence. He's getting criticized from other churches saying you're making us look bad. Andy Stanley recently said, he's embarrassed based on the churches that have opened the past year. And I say to Andy Stanley, I'm embarrassed that you haven't opened your church. @AndyStanley, tweet.

Matthew Maher: 30:06 So what did Daniel do? It says in his upper room with his windows open toward Jerusalem. Alright, notice it doesn't say he opened his windows toward Jerusalem, right? He's not going to make a public spectacle. He didn't go home and go, you know what? I'll show them swing the windows open, let me show off my holiness. Nope, His upper room was a place of devotion, Daniel is not being rebellious. But notice also, it does not say that he shut his windows. He's not about to be cowardice, he's not about to hide the fact that he's a Christian, that he's a believer. Notice, this is Daniel being courageous. He knows the consequences, he recognizes that man's law is contradicting God's law. and he is going to civilly disobey, which is biblical obedience.

Matthew Maher: 30:54 To Daniel, the presence of God was greater than the consequence of man. Psalm chapter 118 says this, the Lord is on my side, I will not fear man. What can he do to me? It is better to trust in God than to put confidence in man. Daniel's not worried about who sees him, he's not worried about cancel culture, he's not worried about fearing the lion's ability to devour, he's not fearing any of that. What about the lions? Now, you might not get thrown into a lion's den, but you very well may be up against the lions who are lying on you. Lying lions, slanderous lions, lions who lie, lions who kick your back in, lions who backstab, lions who slander you? How do you respond? Are you surprised? Jesus said the devil is the father of lies, so his offspring are going to be just like him.

Matthew Maher: 31:45 Stop engaging with those who are lying on you. I see so many people going back and forth on Facebook trying to convince one another of their particular point of view. Meanwhile, the person has no interested in being persuaded into your Christianity, they're just popping up to so discord. Don't give that lying lion any time. Then there's this other form of lions, lions who lie in wait. These are the sneaky lions, deceptive lions, Psalm chapter 10 says it like this, the wicked, they lie and wait secretly. That what a lion does, he hides behind the brush and he waits for the prey to come out and he pounces on his prey unexpectedly. This is one of the tactics of the enemy. So what are we to do? I'll tell you, what did Jesus say we should do in regards to our enemies. This is hard. but this is what sets us apart. He says, if they curse you, you bless them.. You love those who hate you. you pray for those you spitefully use you and persecute you, and I go, I can't do that. I'm going, that's the point, God's like, you can't do it in your own flesh, you need to die to self and allow my spirit to pray for your enemy. So while our enemies prey, we pray for our enemies. While our enemies P R E Y, we P R a Y.

Matthew Maher: 33:10 It says, "Daniel knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God." Okay, Daniel's in his eighties, Daniel's still getting prostrate, he's still getting on his knees three times a day. We don't know what he prayed, but we know the flavor of his prayer. He gave thanks, not complaining, not how could this happen again, God, I've served you for over 70 years, really, now I've got to go up against the lion’s den and these critics. No, no, no, it says he's thankful. Perhaps he's praying for his captors, perhaps he's praying what Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego prayed, O God, we believe you can deliver us, we believe you will deliver us. But even if you don't, even if you choose not to deliver me, God, I will still praise you.

Matthew Maher: 34:01 He must've understood what David wrote in Psalm 55 verse 16 and 17, "As for me, I will call upon God, and the Lord shall save me. Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice." I just want to take a page out of that and go, do I have a rhythm where I'm getting with the Lord during the day? Is he the first thought on my mind when I awake, is he the last thought on my mind when I go to sleep, I don't want a late night talk show, or some news outlet, or social media, to be the last thing that my mind captures before it shuts down and goes to sleep, I want it to be prayer. And I said this before, many of you in here that have babies, isn't it the most beautiful thing to watch their eyes just slowly close in your arms. And some of you are trying to fight the sleep as you're praying, and you think like, God is displeased because you fell asleep while you're praying. I'm like no, no, no, he's loving the fact that while you're praying to him that he's holding you, and out you go.

Matthew Maher: 35:03 I want to have a rhythm that while I'm talking to you in the grocery store, Sarah's doing well, baby's growing. As soon as I'm done in that conversation, my mind snaps back to prayer, praying without ceasing. Thank you, God. Thank you for being good to me and my family. Thank you for what you've done in my life. Like having such a conscious awareness of who God is, and that can only happen when the frequency of our stops, right throughout our day, determine the fervency of our steps. Daniel was constant, Daniel was consistent, Daniel had a rhythm that wasn't religious, it was harmonious.

Matthew Maher: 35:38 On Thursday night, I was in the back, I stand in the back. I'm with Pastor Matt, and it was in the middle of worship, so everybody's standing and facing forward obviously. And Katie's up here, exhorting, and Katie said something that prompted Pastor Matt in the back to say, that's right. I'll never forget it with everybody facing forward, one head in the midst of the sea of people turned around and looked back and it was pastor Matt Stokes' son, Jesse, because he recognized his father's voice. Do you recognize your father's voice? In the midst of a world of noise and chaos, are you sensitive to what the Spirit is saying?

Matthew Maher: 36:24 Daniel understood that the intimacy of his stops would determine the integrity of his steps. Now watch this, at the end of verse 10 I've underlined, "As was his custom since early days." Again, I say this is not his attempt at defining the new order, he's not making a public spectacle out of it, this was Daniel's pattern, this is what he had done. Since the beginning. Prayer to Daniel was not a foxhole in response to crisis, prayer to Daniel was a keyhole. A foxhole prayer, it comes from the battlefield. When the enemies coming in, you jump into a ditch, it's called a foxhole, it's a, last-minute attempt to be safe. And of course that's where we get the idea of a foxhole prayer, I'm taking fire, I'm in the midst of crisis, and then I call out to God, God, where are you? And I go, how many people don't call out to God until something in their life doesn't go the way they planned. And I'll be honest with you, when I counsel and minister to those type of people, they come in, they're broken. My wife left me, this happened. You know, this is going on, I'm about to get fired? All these things, and they're crying out to God. And then soon as they get the job back, or the spouse comes back, you never see them again, foxhole prayer.

Matthew Maher: 37:37 Prayer and devotion to Daniel was a keyhole. What is a keyhole? It's a the position and the place where you put a key. and it opens up a door or a treasure chest. So Daniel is placing his life into a keyhole, prayer, and it's opening up the window of heaven, the economy of God, the peace of God. And he was able to walk with such composure and such peace, because the Bible says that we're to be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and Thanksgiving, with supplication presented to God, our requests, and the peace of God which transcends all understanding. This doesn't make sense, I'm going through some tragedy right now, yet, I have a peace about me, it is the peace of God that guards the heart, and the mind, of the man or woman who trusts in Christ. Daniel aligned himself with the pace of God, so his steps were ordered by the peace of God.

Matthew Maher: 38:30 My first 18 months in prison were spent on a housing unit called Two East. Two East, a favorable housing unit as far as the clientele that you would want to do time with, a lot of police officers that got in trouble, ended up on this housing unit. I was a professional athlete, so I ended up on this housing unit. I did my first 18 months with former NBA All Star of the New Jersey Nets, Jason Williams. Him and I, we jailed and gelled together, we started a Bible study. We were doing what was righteous in spite of the culture, we were leading people to Christ, we wanted them to see God in the midst of this crisis. And that way of living, unfortunately like Daniel's life, comes with God's favor, but it also comes with some fire. And the way we were living, apparently highlighted, perhaps, maybe, I don't know, I couldn't figure it out, the misery of some of my supervisors. Maybe because we smiled every morning and said, good morning, God bless. Maybe they hated the fact, maybe, I don't know, couldn't figure it out, that we were more at peace and freer than they were, I don't know. All's I do know, is we were doing the next righteous thing and they wanted to split us up.

Matthew Maher: 39:38 Well, one day, actually on March 7th, 2011, I was moved from my housing unit and placed upstairs on the worst housing unit in the entire jail, all the gang members were upstairs, all the violent offenders were upstairs. And I remember arguing with God on my way up the steps, going, God, why me? I served you down there, I was leading a Bible study, I was doing what was right. And I'll never forget it, I got into my housing unit, my new one, I'm struggling. And I sense God, say to me, take root where I've planted you, and in that moment there was peace. So for the next three years and three months, I started another Bible study, and more people were coming, and the culture upstairs completely flipped. And we watched men like Little John Paladino, a former mob enforcer, give his life to the Lord. And I remembered in that moment like, wow, God, man's plots fall perfectly into your plan.

Matthew Maher: 40:36 One day, we're all praying, holding hands, a sight to see in jail, grown men, holding hands and praying openly. And we hear a supervisor yelling, move, get out of the way, and they're cursing. So we kind of all open our eyes and look, and the guy that's praying, who's holding my hand, he looked at me like, what should I do? And I said, keep praying, he finished his prayer, three seconds, like no lie. He continued and said, amen, we sat down, they're coming in to do their check. They check the back door, the fire alarm, to make sure that nobody's tampering with it. As they're walking off the housing unit, they go, Maher, come with us. So I get taken to the [inaudible], I get reprimanded, I got yelled at, how dare I defy an order. Now you might go, well, you did. And I go, hold up a second, you don't understand the culture there. The Muslims would be in the back where they're checking that door on their carpets, praying, and nobody would disturb them, they wouldn't move them out of the way to check the door. But the Christians, however, well eventually they moved me back downstairs. Another gut check, you don't want to get moved in jail. That day I got moved, a memorandum went out throughout the entire prison and it said inmates are no longer allowed to congregate around the tables, threatening the Bible study, the charge would be inciting a riot. A decision to make, that very next day, I went to the table, opened the Bible, Bible study up, and invited my peers to come gather and study God's word. But not only that, guess where I landed, I landed back on the same housing unit that my entire journey began on, four years and three months later. And I'm seeing with brand new eyes, how far God had taken me.

Matthew Maher: 42:18 I reiterate man's plots fall perfectly into God's plans, and what might seem irreversible to God, it's redeemable. And the reason we need to be about our father's business, is because to become complacent in the reading and the heading of the scriptures, is to become compliant with the culture whether you believe it or not. Why? Because the stream, or the current of the culture, it's moving one way. Have you noticed that? Have you noticed the direction that the culture is currently moving? John MacArthur said in a recent sermon, "Never in his 80 years of living, has he seen with such crystal clarity, a distinctness between Christ his church and the culture." You can't hide anymore, there's nowhere to hide. You will either compromise and go with the culture, or you will stand out, be set apart, and you can expect persecution.

Matthew Maher: 43:22 What's the end game then pastor? This is interesting people assume because I'm talking about making a
difference, and making an eternal impact on earth, and doing the next righteous thing, and making sure that we are always abiding by God's law. And when we recognize like the Equality Act that's coming down the pipeline, which contradicts God's law, are we willing to stand up against it and oppose it? Are we willing to do that? And the reason I bring this type of stuff up is because it's coming, and I'm trying to warn the church to prepare themselves. But people come in and go, man, we're going to be taken to heaven, so why we should get involved with politics? And that's just their excuse to sit off on the sidelines and not get involved, the end game isn't permanence, I'm not trying to usher in God's kingdom for him. He'll do that on his own, trust me he's coming.

Matthew Maher: 44:10 But in the meantime, the end game for me is to be a preservative, that's what salt is. When Jesus said you're the salt of the earth, he was making an analogy out of what they did with salt, they would pack fishes and they would pack meat, so it wouldn't rot, so it wouldn't decay, so it wouldn't corrupt. And he was saying, as long as the salt is in its rightful place, look at me, it was eventually going to decay, the salt just slowed it down. So to delay the decay of the day, is to be in the way. I say that biblically, Jesus said, I am the way, and I want to be in him, and I want to be in the way of the godless world. I'm not going anywhere, have you ever been in traffic and you're wondering, what's taken so long, you're inching forward and you eventually get up there and you discover it was a turtle. A stinking turtle was making his way across the road. And I'm going, I love that, that's the Christian, we're just making our way through this world, and we're just slowing down the decay of the day, and I'm going to be in the way until the Lord takes me out of the way.

Matthew Maher: 45:14 So let's summarize what we've learned so far this morning. Integrity, it binds us to God's favor. Integrity, it doesn't bend under fire. Man's plots, no matter how wicked or deceitful, they will always fall perfectly into God's plan. Jesus' life, and the cross, are evidence of that. To man, you and I, circumstances may seem irreversible, cannot change them, but to God, all circumstances are redeemable. You can never be a victim of integrity, only a victor from integrity. When you have an awareness of God's thereness, that the presence of God is greater than the consequence of man, you will not move, you will be immovable. And even when your enemy comes at you, when they pray, you pray for them. The frequency of our stops, getting with God, will determine the fervency and the passion of our steps. And my role and goal, the church of Jesus Christ, the disciple of Jesus Christ, is to slow down the decay and be in the way. And since we're not dead, we're not done, we've heard it this morning, let's do it.

Matthew Maher: 46:19 Let me pray for you. Father in Heaven, we thank you again for this opportunity, where we can come out and discover your word, your truth for such a time as this. I pray, O' God, that you would continue to work in our hearts, use your word to actualize our faith. God, that we'd be immovable in the midst of a culture that is trying to cancel everything, that we would stand for truth, that we would be those that share truth, and that we would leave the consequences to you. Thank you for what you're doing, and what you'll continue to do. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Recorded in Ocean City, New Jersey.
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