Behind a Mighty Man Stands a Mighty God
Praise God for the generous spirit He has given so many of you.† So many have sponsored GFA children, so many are going on STM trips.† Weíve not received to just enjoy, but to be a blessing.† [GFA picture]
Take advantage of the fellowship today.† Enjoy your old friendships, please embrace some new ones too.† If you see someone alone, please extend a hand of fellowship.† [picnic picture]
Darius the king has set up his government with Daniel as one of his top 3 administrators over his kingdom.† Daniel does such a good job that Darius wants to have him rule the entire kingdom, but the other administrators and the satraps get jealous.† They try to find some way to attack Daniel, but after investigating, they found Daniel squeaky clean.† And so they came up with a plot.† They approached King Darius with a proposal, that for the next 30 days, no one should pray to any god or man except him.† And if any one does, that offender should be thrown into the lionís den.
Darius agrees and this is made into law.
Daniel knows of the decree,
but prays by his window facing
The king is distraught and distressed.† He miserably endures the night, and first thing in the morning he goes to the lionís den and calls for Daniel.† Daniel responds, ďMy God sent his angels and shut the mouths of the lions.† I am innocent before God and before you O King.Ē
Daniel is lifted from the lionís den, and the accusers are found and thrown in, along with their families, and they are all immediately crushed and devoured.
Darius writes to all people, that the God of Daniel is the living and eternal God.† He has rescued Daniel from the lions.
Daniel is such an impressive character
1.†† Impressive abilities (v. 3)
He stood out, top of the class
to become the highest rank in the land, and that as a foreigner
Daniel was not some lazy, stupid, awkward guy.† He was sharp.† Against enormous obstacles, he made law review and got a federal clerkship, got into Harvard Med, Rhodes Scholar, etc.† Daniel was a top notched guyóthey didnít come any better.
Sometimes God uses the weak, the foolish.† He uses uneducated fishermen or immoral prostitutes.† But sometimes God uses the sharpest, the best.† Paul was a sharp mind, Solomon was incredibly wealthy and wise.
2. Impeccable character (v. 4-5)
even with jealous peers, looking for dirty, he comes out completely blameless
most of us probably have some secrets, things we hope people never find out
Daniel had no dirt: no shady past, no questionable income tax filings or business practices, no steroid use, no secret addictions.† His life had been sifted through with a fine tooth comb, and he came out spotless.
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1 Peter 2:12
Perhaps that should be our ideal, to live in such a way that if our enemies wanted to attack us, theyíd have no ammunition.† The more they see, the more impressed they are.
3. Prominent prayer life (v. 10)
Even though he was a busy man with many important responsibilities, running an empire,
††††† He set aside 3 times a day to pray
Even though he was a very talented, intelligent and able man,
He was constantly asking God for help, and giving thanks.
He was disciplined and structured with a prayer life
You get a sense that Daniel had a vibrant relationship with God.† He spoke with God and God spoke with him (and helped him interpret many dreams).
4. Fearless and uncompromising commitment (v. 10)
Even against the edict, he continued to pray
He so easily could have
avoided the clash: not pray by the window or toward
He would not stop praying, even against threat of death.
What does it take to stop us from praying?† Almost nothing.
A life-threatening edict could not stop Daniel from praying.† But all the freedom and opportunity in the world often isnít enough to get us to start praying.
I felt God was challenging me in my own prayer life, and so Iíd like to make a commitment and invitation:† by Godís grace, I will pray consistently every day for 30 days (until May 24).† Not that I shouldnít be doing that already, but Iíd like to make that a commitment.† And I say this because Iíd like to invite you too, if you feel at all prompted that God wants you to focus on your prayer life, letís do it together.† Email me, and we can share some of our prayer requests and hold each other accountable.† Iíd suggest, like Daniel, you set a time and a place, and decide today that youíre going to honor this commitment.†
5.†† Undeniable witness
Everyone knew whom Daniel served.
How is Daniel addressed?† (16) ďMay your God, whom you sere continually, rescue you.Ē† (20) ďDaniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?Ē
Darius could not call Daniel without also including how he serves his God.
Even his enemies knew his prayer life and his faithfulness to his God.
What do people see in our lives?† Do people know who you serve, whom you trust in?† Itís so easy in our work places and campuses to hide our faith, to avoid talking about it.† But Daniel is an open book.† In a Babylonian world where it was not fashionable to follow Yahweh, Daniel stood tall.
As wonderful and impressive as these qualities are, I think it would be simplistic and superficial to stop at these more immediate and external observations.
Thereís something deeper going on.† What made Daniel so great was not that his character or moral strength, as much as his faith, his relationship with God.
I donít think it was that Daniel, against his fears, mustered up his courage to defy the edict to obey God.
††††† There were no laws that required Daniel to pray 3 times a day, by his window.† This was not about obedience or disobedience.† I donít think Daniel saw this as something about courage or obedience.
Rather, it seemed that the edict simply didnít matter to him.† The plot of his enemies, the edict didnít scare him.† The edict wasnít a big deal because God was a big deal.
The treasures of
Why be fearful of the playground bully when your Dad is Arnold Schwarzenegger?
Why be fearful of kings when you talk with the Creator of the Universe.
Thatís why his character was so clean, because he wasnít looking at his enemies, but because he was looking at his God.† He was living in the reality of a God who sees his life, living in the presence of God.† He wasnít thinking about enemies who might inspect his life, he was thinking about the God who indeed already sees his life.
Thatís why prayer is important, because God is important.† Daniel gives thanks to God who gives him all things, Daniel asks for help from the One who can do all things.† He saw the reality that God is the most important factor in everything.
We may all have the biblical knowledge that God is almighty, but Daniel liked like it.
I believe Einstein said something like, when he saw the universe, with itís billions of light-years in dimension and billions of stars in just the Milky Way galaxy, he had this enormous view of God.
But when he heard Christian preachers, when he saw the church, he felt like they were blaspheming.† How could they be speaking of or offering worship to the same God he saw in the universe.
Sometimes our lives betray a truer understanding of who God is.
We worry, fear, doubt, regret, as if to imply that at our care, we see God as rather small.
Daniel displays a grander God.
What do we see about God?†
God saves where Darius could not.†
Darius was worrying helplessly.† In the story, we read repeatedly that once signed, an edict cannot be changed, even by the king himself (12, 15).† Darius is doing everything he can to try to save Daniel, but he canít (14).† In the end, Darius is just a man too.
Where kings fail, God succeeds.
Do you really believe this?
Do you believe that even if you personally knew Amy Guttmann (President of Penn) or Jack Welch (former CEO of GE), God can do more?† Even if you were related to Bill Gates or Bill Clinton, God could do more?
Have you seen those TV shows where, say, Oprah or Extreme Makeover [picture?] takes a troubled life and builds them a new house, gets them all the needed surgeries, makes them beautiful, reunites them with loved ones, gives them their dream and a ton of cash?
God says, where Oprahís fail, I succeed.† You have a stronger ally than Orprah.
And when you saw Oprah or these shows, did you ever say to yourself, I wish I had an Oprah in my life?† I wish I had some rich and powerful friend taking care of me?
God says, you do.† Daniel lived with the conviction that greater than kings or Oprahís, God Almighty is covenantally committed to him and his people.
God says, Where Dariusís and Oprahís fail, I succeed.† And Daniel believed that to down in his bones.
God does save
I want to make a distinction.
God does not always save us from the lionís den.† Many Christians are martyred, dying for their faith.† Many Christians lose their jobs, get rejected from grad school, donít get married, struggle with infertility, etc.
God does not save every time and in every way.
The message is not a promise that God will save each of us from everything.
The message is that God does save.†
In the big picture, God will
save his Jewish people from their Babylonian captors.† God will restore them to
For the Christian, that message takes on greater clarity and assurance.
We believe that in the final and greatest trial, God saves us.† [cross picture]
We are saved.
God may not choose to save us from all our financial stresses or academic pressures or medical problems or loneliness needs.† But that does not take away from the fact that God does save.† We have already been saved.
That God rescued you from the burning building is not in any way diminished if he does not rescue you from your stomach ache.
That God rescued you from death row is not in any way diminished if he does not rescue you from a parking ticket.
In the final and ultimate story, we are already rescued.
Little Johnnyís frustrations boiled over in his daily life.† He wasnít as strong his brother Mark.† He wasnít as smart as his sister Lucy.† Compared to his siblings, his stories were never as funny, his artwork was never as neat, and his piano pieces always had a few more wrong notes.† And to top it off, severe asthma and frequent lung infections kept him away from playing sports.† He always felt a little resentful that he didnít have more in life.†
That is, until the day he stumbled across a box tucked away in the attic.† What began as a search for old clothes to doctor up his Halloween costume ended in a discovery that completely changed his perspectiveÖ and his life.† Inside the box Ė a Russian birth certificate, medical papers detailing the vascular surgery performed to repair a collapsed lung, and a newspaper article highlighting the tragedy of an earthquake that decimated a small Eastern European village.
As he poured over the papers, footsteps softly crept up the ladder leading to the attic.† In a hushed voice, Johnnyís mother lovingly began to tell him a tale of a little baby who was pulled from the rubble of a devastating earthquake that had destroyed the babyís home and had killed the babyís family.† With tears trickling down her cheek, Johnnyís mother continued on about the international rescue effort, the life-saving surgery, and the surgeon who could not leave this orphaned baby to the care of others.† The surgeonís name would one day simply be known as Dad.† Mark and Lucy would become brother and sister.† And the tear-stained face of the one telling the story would forever be Mom.
It would take Johnny some time to overcome the shock of this story.† But, in time, he came to realize that the insult of not being able to play sports like other children, and the disappointment of not being the strongest, smartest, or most talented somehow faded against the backdrop of a true love story where he was the main character, saved from the clutches of death and given new life.
If youíre a Christian, and you embrace the Gospel, we celebrate that God does save.† God has already saved.† We live, by faith, in the celebration of our victory, our deliverance, our treasures, our rescue.
Godís message to his people is that He saves us.† And we rejoice.
Daniel lived in this God-reality.† As he focused on this Almighty and Faithful God, he was empowered to live blameless, prayerfully, uncompromisingly, transparently.
Friends, behold, we have a God who is greater than kings, and He fights for us, indeed He has already saved us.† Go and live like you believe that.