Life challenges us live up to God’s standard. How can we be successful without selling out? This study will examine lessons from the prophet Daniel’s life to show how we can take that dare and thrive!
[Steve Myers] All right. Good evening, everyone. I'd like to welcome you to our Bible study tonight. Those of you here in the room, at the home office of the United Church of God, and all of you on the web, we're glad that you're here with us. Tonight, we're going to continue our series in the book of Daniel. And so, to begin, let's all bow our heads and ask God's blessing on our Bible study tonight.
Great, loving, heavenly Creator, Father God, we are so thankful for the blessings of understanding Your way and Your Word. We certainly appreciate the opportunity to get together tonight, we pray for Your presence, we pray for Your blessing, we pray God that You'd open our minds to your truth so that we can gain deeper understanding of Your ways of life, and what Your Word has to offer us. We are so thankful, God, that you show us Your will, You show us Your Word in ways that we can apply these things in our life. And so, Father, as we study the life of Daniel tonight, we pray for that blessing. We pray for your inspiration on what's said and we certainly pray for our hearing, God, so that we are open, we have soft hearts that we can certainly be pliable in Your hands, so we can begin to more fully and deeply understand Your Word, and that we can apply it in our lives, so that we can be growing more and more like your Son Jesus Christ all the time. So, Father, we put our life into Your hands, we put this study into Your hands as well, and we pray for Your presence and blessing. And we ask it all in and by and through the authority of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Well, tonight, we're going to continue, in fact, this will be our last in the series, on “Lessons from the Prophet Daniel.” And tonight, being no different than some of the others, we're going to take an overview because as God's people, as Christians, life certainly challenges us to put into practice God's way. We, as His people, we must strive to live by His standard. And isn't it great when we have specific instructions and guidance that we can say, "Oh, that's what it looks like to live by God's standards. Here's a way that I can look at His Word, and look at my life, and strive to put those ways into practice." And Daniel is a great example of this in so many ways. In the way we’ll look at it tonight, as we look at Daniel's life, he was an amazingly successful young man, middle-aged man, and old man. And yet during all of that time, he never sold out. He never compromised God's way.
So how is it that we can be the kind of Christians God wants us to be? How can we be successful in this life and not sell out? Well, tonight we're going to take a look at some lessons from Daniel's life to show how, what I've kind of termed, “Take the Dare.” We can take the dare to live God's way the way that Daniel did. And where I came up with that title, “Take the Dare,” was as I was thinking about this particular Bible study, I was reminded of an old hymn.
There's an old hymn that's called, “Dare to be a Daniel.” It was a hymn that was written way back in the 1800s by a man named, Philip Bliss. And it's not in our hymn book for the United Church of God, but it has some interesting lyrics. It goes something like this. Now, I'm not going to sing it. But, actually, there's a kiddy song that has taken the same lyrics, and the kids sing the song and it's, kind of, cute. If you Google it on YouTube you can find various versions. Maybe one of the most humorous ones is… it, kind of, sounds like a men's choir song, and they're very serious singing about daring to be a Daniel. So if you can imagine that, here's how the lyrics go: “Dare to be a Daniel. Dare to stand alone. Dare to have a purpose firm. Dare to make it known.” And taking those lyrics and the idea from Daniel's life, he did take the dare to stand up for God's way no matter what and that's what his life came down to. When you turn to the book of Daniel, if you go there with me, look at the very beginning of the book. As Daniel and his story begins, he was already offset from even his own people. If you look at Daniel 1:4 Daniel 1:4Children in whom was no blemish, but well favored, and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
American King James Version×, as these young men from Israel — Judah, specifically, were being taken off by Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel is described here in verse 4, as one of the “young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.”
So as we first come into contact with Daniel in the story of the book of Daniel, we find that he was distinguished already from so many others that were in Judah. Now, that story doesn't change much as we go through that story. If we skip down to verse 20, imagine a captive taken to a strange land, what would that do to you? Well, when we jump down to verse 20, it says, not only was he exceptional in Judah, he was also exceptional in Babylon. Verse 20, it says, "In all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them…" And Daniel is among these, them, "he found them ten times better than all the magicians and the astrologers who were in all his realm."
So we see this consistency between this young man whether in his own country or whether taken captive to Babylon. And, in fact, as he trusts in God, lives his life, we can fast forward to chapter 5, and notice how he was given authority and given power over all Babylon. Imagine this, Daniel 5, look at verse 29. It says, "Then Belshazzar gave the command, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck, made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom." And, of course, at the time there were co-rulers. So here is Daniel basically next in charge over all of Babylon and yet he never compromised. Never compromised. In fact, we see the consistency in his life that if we fast forward to chapter 6, look at the very beginning of chapter 6.
Chapter 6 verse 1, Babylon crumbles and now the Medo-Persian Empire takes over. But guess who's consistent even in the change of government from being taken captain in Israel, to Babylon, and now Persia. Here we have the Persian leader Darius. It says, "It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps, to be over the whole kingdom." Verse 2, "Is over these, three governors, of whom Daniel was one." And so, again, we see he's got very similar power as he had in Babylon. Well, how in the world did Daniel do it? You know, how could he attain these positions of power and yet never compromise his position as a man of God, never looked the other way when it came to doing what was right? Well, let's take a closer look at how Daniel did it, how he took the dare under whatever circumstances and still follow God. Still obeyed God in some of the most unusual, and difficult, and trying circumstances. We, if we follow Daniel's example, can also be successful if we do it without selling out and accept that dare to live like a Daniel.
All right. Let's begin by going back to chapter 1 for a moment. Daniel 1, and we'll look at verse 8 for just a moment. Daniel 1:8 Daniel 1:8But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
American King James Version×. We see a couple of characteristics as we look through the story of Daniel that help us to identify how he did it. How could he take that dare to continue to live to be a godly man no matter what the circumstances, and not compromise, not give up, don't sell out? How do you do that? But what we find initially in the story of Daniel, is it came down to commitment. Daniel was a man of commitment. So let's think about that for just a moment.
Daniel was a man of commitment. And we begin to see that immediately in verse 8 of chapter 1. Verse 8 of chapter 1, we see Daniel having been taken captive to Babylon, and he had already decided something. Verse 8, it says, "Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank." So we see this young teenager, Daniel as a young boy, in a strange land, faced with the challenge. Do you give in? You can violate God's direction. It's not really clear if this is talking about unclean foods or if it's a fact that perhaps these foods were offered to idols, we're not told all the details here. But, Daniel was not going to defile himself. He wasn't going to to eat those things. But, how perfect the excuse? "Well, God would certainly understand because I'm just a kid. I'm just a kid and He knows I've been taken captive. He knows I'm not at home. He knows the struggles that I'm going through. God would certainly understand if I eat this stuff." You see, you could easily justify all of those kinds of things. But, despite the fact that he's a young man and all the pressures of authority, we've got the king of this foreign land that he has to obey, and yet he doesn't do it. He could have easily given it up and come up with great excuses in his own mind to not do what God expected. But I don't know if you caught it or not, why didn't he? Why didn't he?
I think it comes down to this phrase at the beginning of that verse, that Daniel had “purposed in his heart.” Purposed in his heart. That word literally means he had decided. He had decided. Now, do you think that decided was the fact that all of a sudden, he was faced with this trial and now I got to make a decision? I don't think that's the way it happened. That word can also mean to set your heart. Some translations say, "He had made up his mind." And you see, when you see it in that context, that's taking us back. Before this ever happened, Daniel had made up his mind. He had purposed in his heart that he wouldn't defile himself. So he'd already committed himself to God that I'm going to follow God, I'm going to obey Him no matter what.
And so before he came to that position, before the challenge, before the delicacies were put in front of him, he'd already made up his mind. He already put God first. And so, God blessed him for following through on what he had already set his mind to do. And that's such a great reminder for us. We've got to have that kind of sense of purpose that we've already decided that whatever the circumstances, whatever the challenge, whatever the compromise that comes before us, we are not going to fall for it, we're not going to do that. We're going to set our mind ahead of time like Daniel, that he had resolved that whatever the circumstances, whatever the challenge, whatever it might be that would cause me to violate that love that I have for God, I'm going to stand up against it.
And so, we, too, if we're to be Christians like God wants us to be, if we're going to be taking that dare, taking the challenge to live up to God's standard, we have to purpose in our heart ahead of time. Decide ahead of time that I'm not going to be spineless. I'm not going to be a weakling. I'm not going to be wishy-washy when it comes to God's way. I mean, think about that character trait. You think about… anybody respect the wishy-washy person? You know, does anyone honor somebody that's weak, and spineless and somebody that doesn't have any direction in their life? No, you don't.
It's interesting if we just look a verse later, look at verse 9, "God brought Daniel into favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs." God granted him favor because he was striving to live God's way because he had that sense of purpose. He was blessed because of that. Because he had that commitment and he wasn't going to backslide, he wasn't going to hedge, he wasn't going to look the other way, he wasn't going to make excuses. And so this is the kind of purpose that each of us need to exhibit. In fact, when we look at the example of what Christ said should be our guide, it mirrors what Daniel did. We all know the passage that Christ mentioned in Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
American King James Version×. He told us very specifically what should be the chief priority in our life. And I'll bet that as Daniel was taken into captivity and before that time when he had set his mind, he had purposed in his heart that something similar to the thought that Christ mentioned, was on his mind. In Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
American King James Version×, we know that passage. "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given unto you." Or, "Granted unto you."
Well, he sought God's Kingdom first, he sought God's standard in his life. He wasn't going to hedge on it. And as a result, he found favor. He found favor. And so here was this young teenager willing to stand up when others wouldn't, and that's when the pressure's on. You see other people giving up, not standing for their faith, well, it's easy to make an excuse then. It's easy to say, "Well, I'm out of my circumstances. I'm out of my home. I'm out of… I'm in a strange land. God, there's no temple, how are we supposed to worship you? Look at everybody else is doing it. I guess it's not going to be that bad if I do." But Daniel didn't forget. Daniel didn't compromise. He knew that God was with him. He knew God was watching. And so he didn't forget what Godly principles were all about. So then, for us, have we really purposed in our heart that no matter what, we're going to follow God? And, of course, you look at this little situation, you think, "Oh, this is just pretty minor thing. A little bit of wine, how could that hurt? You know, a little delicacy here is not that big a deal. Right? I mean, after all, what's the difference if my child is three or two? Because, if he's two, I can get the deal and not have to pay the full admission." Is that what we do? You see, these things apply to us too.
“I would never… well, maybe, I might keep the extra change the cashier gave me. Well, it's their fault. Too bad.” Do we justify those kinds of things? Or if you thought your boss was going to call you on a Sunday and I really don't want to go into work on Sunday, so he's calling and I see the caller ID and “I'm going to have… well, I'll have we have my son answer the phone and tell him I'm not here because I don't want to go into work.” Do we hedge on things like that? "We could get a little bit of work in if I have to on the Sabbath, but I can still make it to church so I guess that makes it all, all right." You see those kinds of things, we have to take Daniel's example that even in the smallest of things, he wasn't going to hedge. He wasn't going to compromise God's standard. He wasn't going to justify. He wasn't going to make excuses. And so even in the smallest of areas, if we're going to take the dare, we have to purpose in our heart. We have to have that commitment not to give that up in any way, not in the slightest way if we're going live up to the standard that God wants us to. And then, ultimately, be granted the blessings that God wants to pour out on us.
And so Daniel was a fantastic example of this. And we could go through the whole book and pick out numerous examples that highlight Daniel's commitment. It is an amazing thing to see that consistency throughout his life. So it wasn't just in this one instant that he purposed in his heart, he had made that commitment. And, of course, if we're baptized members of God's Church, we made that commitment too. We purposed in our heart at that time that we are not going to give up His way. We're not going to change. We're not going to sacrifice God's standard for our own values. Right? We've taken on God's standard now. And so Daniel shows that throughout his life.
But that wasn't the only aspect of what really made Daniel one of those that we should emulate. When we look at Daniel's example, commitment was huge, absolutely, undeniable. But, I think, he took it to another level. Daniel was also a man of conviction. He was also a man of conviction. So let's think about that character trait for just a moment. Daniel was also a man of conviction. Yeah, we saw that in this whole situation with eating the king's delicacy as a young man, as a young teenager, he did that. But, you know, as an old man, that character trait of conviction was still there. If you turn with me over to chapter 5 verse 16, notice Daniel 5:16 Daniel 5:16And I have heard of you, that you can make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if you can read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, you shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about your neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.
American King James Version×. Now, here's Daniel much later. We know this familiar story that's accounted here in chapter 5, it's the handwriting on the wall section of the book of Daniel. And what's interesting about this story is how this scenario comes about to exhibit Daniel's conviction. Look at verse 16. We see… the king says, "I've heard of you, that you can give interpretations and explain enigma.” Explain mysteries. “Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom." Sounds pretty good to me. “Wow! I'd have power. People would like me. I'd be in charge. Wow, that's why I need to interpret this handwriting." You see how that could easily go to your head? But it didn't. Look at what Daniel does, verse 17. Then Daniel answered and said before the king. "Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; yet I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpretation."
So Daniel basically says, "I don't want the gifts. This isn't about money. This isn't about power. This isn't about any of these things. This is about living God's way, living His standard, not compromising, not conforming." Because you could imagine, what would the astrologers want? What would the soothsayers want? What would the other magicians? “Well, I'd take the power, I'll take the money, I'll take the fame. That's why I want to be able to do all of these things.” But it wasn't like that way with Daniel at all, not at all. And I often wonder how did he say this? How do you refuse a king's gift? I'm sure that probably didn't happen every day when the king says, "Well, I'm going to give you these great things." I mean, did he say it like, "Let your gift be you to yourself, lousy, rotten king. I'm not taking them." Now, I'm sure he didn't. But when you think about how exactly did he word this? You know, if you had the wrong inflection or didn't say it the right way, I could imagine you could earn the king's wrath if you weren't careful. But, I think, because of that conviction, the king even recognized this. That even under the threats from others, even from the king himself, he wasn't going to compromise in any way.
Later in his life, if you turned over to chapter 6 verse 13, we'll leave the handwriting of the wall behind and then fast forward now too, once again, the Persian kingdom and the Medo-Persian kingdom. Here, he's under a threat of death. Certainly, that's the time that God would understand, "Well, you know, if I don't give in they're going to kill me." Wouldn't God understand that? Well, notice what Daniel does. Verse 13 of Daniel chapter 6, those enemies of Daniel “said before the king, ‘That Daniel, who is one of the captives from Judah, he doesn't show due regard to you.’" He says, "for the decree that you've signed, he makes his petition three times a day.” Now, that was against the law. “He can't be doing that." Well, because it was against the law, the king had no choice. Down in verse 16, "The king gave the command, they brought Daniel, cast him into the den of lions."
You see, Daniel was willing to put his life on the line to do what was right. He wasn't going to worship any king, he wasn't going to compromise his relationship with God, he wasn't going to give up communicating with his Creator because he was convicted. He was convicted. “This is the only way, this is the only way.” And so whether we see it as a teenager, whether we see it at the handwriting of the wall where we'd see it at Daniel in the lion's den, he was convicted throughout his life that God's way is the only way. It is the only way. And then, as a result, he survives the lion's den and he's blessed. He's blessed. If you look down at verse 22, we won't reverse the whole story, but Daniel's alive the next morning after being tossed in the lion's den.
Verse 23, "The king was exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatsoever was found on him.” Not a spot on him. Why? Well, that last little phrase. “Because he believed in his God.” Yeah, that belief was an absolute conviction, absolute conviction. He had faith. He not only believed in God, but he believed God, and it changed who he was so that his actions bore that out. And so he survives, he's blessed. And as a result, then, we see in verse 28, as “Daniel prospered even in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” So we see that blessing followed his obedience.
And so, once again, we see an interesting aspect when you think about this concept of conviction, he was absolutely convinced that God's way works, that God's way is the only way. And literally that word, conviction, it really just means having this fixed belief. This is absolute confidence. He had certainly went through that process of being convinced by God that this is His way. This is His way. And, of course, when we think about that in our circumstances, what does that look like? What are we convicted of? You know, what has gone through our minds so that we have the kind of commitment that Daniel had, and then we take it to the level of being absolutely fixed in this way. Well, we have His Word, we have God's Word. And so our conviction should be based on a commitment to the Word of God because the Word is God's directory. This is how you live. You know, it's the instruction book for life.
And this is something that we have absolutely dedicated our lives to, that there isn't a part of our life that is exceptional to the Word of God that our whole life, our whole being, is wrapped up in striving to live by every word of God. That's what Daniel did, he lived that example before us. And so, if we're going to be like a Daniel, we're going to take that, kind of, dare to be convicted the way that he was, that's exactly what we need to do.
And, of course, that conviction stands exactly opposite of fear and doubt. It's absolutely opposite. How would he have survived if he was skeptical about God's way? How would he been able to put those things? How would he be able to stand before the king and interpret their dreams? How would he be able to stand and have his life at risk if he wasn't absolutely committed to it and convicted that this is the way? So he didn't leave any room for doubt because he was committed to God's Word and His way.
We're reminded of a sentence that a man named, Jim Hightower once said, and it has to do with this idea of commitment and conviction. And he said this, "The opposite of courage is not cowardice." I thought, "Well, that's, kind of, a strange thing. I've always thought it was the opposite." But here's what he said, "The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it's conformity." He went on to say, "Even a dead fish can go with the flow." Think about that. Conformity goes with the flow. So if we claim to be a Christian, a mature Christian is characterized by this absolute commitment to God's word as our authority. This is the authority in my life. Our belief, our conviction, is based on the authority of the Word of God.
In fact, well, there's many passages throughout the Bible, but one that came to my mind is found over in Psalm 15. If you want to turn over to Psalm 15 for just a moment, here it gives us another perspective. Of course, we have the living, breathing example of what Daniel did and how he lived. But, over in Psalm 15, we, kind of, have a summary, a perspective on those. And, of course, we should be thinking, "This is the way we need to be. This is the way I want to be. This should be a description of me. Is it a description of me or where can I improve?" Psalm 15 gives that perspective, so let's notice it. Psalm 15, it says, "Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?” Who may dwell with You? You know, the tabernacle is God's dwelling place. "Who may dwell in Your holy hill?” Well, here's a description of that kind of individual and notice how on the descriptions here fit in with people who are convicted and committed to God's way and His will. It says, verse 2, "He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart; he who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honors those who fear the Lord; he who swears to his own hurt and doesn't change; he who does not put out his money at usury, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved."
I, kind of, like that section of the Scripture because it summarizes so many different facets of what life is like. And we all have to go through situations like this. We have opportunities when we don't have to tell the truth or we could shade the truth, you know, maybe to make ourselves look better, or maybe to hide something that actually… we could do that. Do we really walk uprightly? Do we really have that frame of mind all the time? “Well, it doesn't it matter if I do that to them because they're not in the Church anyway, so what's the difference?” Well, wait a second, you don't do evil to your neighbor. So these different aspects, these different facets of the application of God's Word, is something we need to look at and ask ourselves, "Am I willing to swear to my own hurt?" Because we've done that. If we've committed ourselves to God, we have done just that. That no matter what, I'm going to obey God even if it hurts. Because I'm sure that Daniel was faced with those kinds of situations and yet he was not going to change. He had set his mind. And no wonder the conclusion of this passage says, "You do these things, you won't be moved. You're going to rock solid. You've set a foundation and you're not going to be moved."
And so as we imagined this and its application to our lives, it also reminds us that if we stand for God's way like a Daniel, God's not going to let us down. He's not going to give us up, He's going to favor us. And following Daniel's example, even in the eyes of your enemies, even in the eyes of your enemies, Daniel is an amazing example of that. So can you think of anything that God isn't willing to do for his own people? That's an amazing example of Daniel's life.
Of course, it doesn't stop there either. We turn back to the book of Daniel, go to Daniel 6. When we think of commitment and conviction, powerful attributes that we must have if we're going be God-fearing Christians. But, I think it's only a start. It's only a start because there's more. When you consider commitment and conviction, there's an implication in those words that we can't leave out because it implies doing, doesn't it? I mean, it implies action. It implies there's a direction in our life. And so if we're committed and we're convicted, it undoubtedly has to impact the way that we live. Let's notice this in Daniel's life. You notice I've got all “C” words here. Daniel was a man of godly conduct, Daniel was a man of godly conduct, so much so that people couldn't find fault with him. Can you imagine that? Somebody looks at my life and go, "Oh, boy. Look at that. Look at this. He's off the mark on this thing."
Can you imagine your enemies scrutinizing your life, and not being able to come up with anything against you? That's what Daniel was like. Now, you may already be over in Daniel 6. If you turn to verse 4, Daniel 6:4 Daniel 6:4Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; for as much as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.
American King James Version×, here we find an interesting example. We’ve read a little bit part of this, a little bit out of order a little bit earlier, but we'll pick up the story here as we go to Daniel 6:4 Daniel 6:4Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; for as much as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.
American King James Version×. Here, “the governors of the satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom.” "Oh, he must have put something in his pocket, he must have cheated, he must have done these things. He must've lied." But, instead, “they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him.”
So it's almost a two-fold thing going here. On the job… the implication is on his job. Okay, the governors in the satraps look for a charge concerning the kingdom. You know, "Was he really loyal on his job? Did he really do the job he was supposed to be doing? Yeah, he must have paid somebody under the table, he must have brought… he must have done something when it came to his job." But he didn't. They couldn't find it. Plus, then, it says, "There was no error or fault found in him." So looking at his person, looking at his lifestyle, looking at his way of life, so they couldn't find anything in the way that he did his job, and they couldn't find anything in his person, in his character. Nothing, nothing. So they come to the conclusion, verse 5. These men said, "We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of this God.” “Well, maybe if we can make a rules against his God then he'll have to violate those."
And, of course, this begins to explain a little bit why Daniel rose to such positions of power, and authority, and responsibility. Because he was faithful. He was faithful. I mean, why did that happen? Well, his overall goal, his overall purpose, I suppose you could say, was Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
American King James Version×. He was going to put God first no matter what. He was going to see God, seek His kingdom first no matter what. And he exhibited that character trait throughout his entire life. And that's something that we also must emulate. That our commitment and conviction has to come out in the way we conduct our lives, in what we say, what we do. And the implication here, they couldn't find any fault in Daniel. And so there should be no area, no area in our life whether it's concerning the kingdom, our jobs, whether it's concerning our person, no faults found in us.
In fact, the same thing is mirrored here if you want to hold your place in Daniel. Go over to Titus 2:6 Titus 2:6Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.
American King James Version×. Titus 2:6 Titus 2:6Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.
American King James Version×is certainly a reminder for us. Paul writes to this young minister, Titus, showing him the ways of godly conduct. He's telling them, "Here's what you should teach God's people." And he tells us, tells Titus specifically and us by extension. He says, "Exhort the young men to be sober-minded,” and notice verse 7, "in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,” verse 8, "sound speech that you cannot be condemned,” even the way you talk.
He said, "that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you." You know, you have to wonder, "Wow, what did Paul had Daniel and his example in mind when he wrote this to Titus?" But that's exactly what Daniel was like in everything, in all things. He didn't have a work personality and a church personality. Right? He wasn't a different character in different circumstances. And so whether he was out and about, shopping at the store, whether he was on the job, whether he was in the home, whether he was at church, he was who he was. He was a godly Christian no matter what. And this is telling us, "In all things, this is our duty. This is our calling. Show yourself a pattern of good works. Emulate."
Well, first, Jesus Christ. Follow that powerful example no matter what, no matter what. And when we do that, obviously we show ourselves as faithful individuals. We show a pattern of good works. Are those the kind of people that get promotions on the job? Are those the kind of people that are given positions of responsibility? Are those the kind of people that are given privileges? Boy, any of us that have been parents certainly recognize that concept. Of course, that's the case because you could trust them. You can trust them. You can use them. They can be used in powerful ways. And so, there's no doubt that Daniel exhibit these godly characteristics. And the way he showed them in his conduct is a powerful example for us. Now if you held your place back there in Daniel 6, let's go back there for a moment, because I think there's one thing that ties these together, that helps to, I think, maybe, explain in one sense how we can do these things, a unifying factor in commitment and conviction that translates then into conduct.
Well, Daniel 6:10 Daniel 6:10Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled on his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
American King James Version×gives us that characteristic. And the fact is, he developed a very close relationship with God. It came down to that very fact. What tied these traits together was his relationship to God? He loved God, and he was going to obey him no matter what. And in Daniel 6, as soon as he heard this decree that, "You better not be caught praying to anybody but the king," what did Daniel do? There was no way he was going to sacrifice his relationship to God. He knew he had to talk to God, he had to communicate with him. He had to listen to God and talk to God. He wasn't going to sacrifice that relationship. And so when you look down to verse 10 of chapter 6, it says, "When Daniel knew the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as his custom was since early days."
You see that praying is that representation that he had a relationship with God, and there was nothing that was going to come between him and God. Nothing, nothing. And I think we're going to find that in our lives as well, that there will be times we'll be, sort of, at a crossroads. We're going to be faced with challenges. There will be times, and this is the nature of life. Our faith is going to be tested. Undoubtedly, those moments will come. It may not be exactly like Daniel's, but we're going to be at that crossroads. Which way are we going to go? Which way are we going to choose? You know, will we stand for God and our relationship with Him despite the fact we may be made fun of, despite the fact we may be persecuted, despite the fact I might lose my job, despite the fact I may be persecuted? You see, Daniel had purpose in his heart. He decided that was not worth sacrificing his relationship with God for anything even, in his case, to the point of death. Of course, if we are true Christians, we've made the same commitment because we're to have killed that old man, that old way of life, that old lifestyle, that old way of thinking.
The apostle Paul saw that same thing. You could just write down 1 Corinthians 15:31 1 Corinthians 15:31I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our LORD, I die daily.
American King James Version×. That's where Paul said, "I die daily." "I die daily." So in a sense, we are like Daniel, and we have to kill that old way of thinking and keep it out of our way of thought. We can't revert to that. And the only way that's going to be possible if we renew God's Spirit, we stay close to God. We listen to God. We study His Word and we stay close to Him in prayer. As Daniel's example, you know, we have to know Him, we have to worship Him, and that means a closeness that's not just, "Well, God's an acquaintance of mine. I know God, sort of." You see it's not that at all. Daniel had an intimate relationship with God. It wasn't a casual relationship.
So he was so close to God, there was nothing that was going to come between him and God. And because of that relationship, I think we can see the connection then, whether he was delivered out of the hand of the king when they were first taken into captivity when he was recognized to be a young man of talent, or whether it was the man who stood before the king and interpreted dreams, and even said some pretty bad things about Nebuchadnezzar, you're going to be like a wild beast for seven years. He didn't hedge. He didn't hedge. No matter what he faced, he stood for God, he stood for His way and was delivered in each one of those circumstances, out of the mouth of the lions. And what happened to his enemies? Well, they were destroyed. They were destroyed. And perhaps one of the most amazing things that were a result of these, this commitment, this conviction, this godly conduct, as, you know, a reflection of his relationship with God, is something that God's given to all of us. And sometimes maybe we don't think of it in these terms, but I think it's an amazing result of Daniel's conduct.
We have a vision statement that's on the wall next door in the conference room, and it refers to Ephesians 4:10 Ephesians 4:10He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
American King James Version×. In fact, maybe we could go over there. We're going to come back to Daniel 6, so hold your place there. Go over to Ephesians 4 for just a moment and we'll see something that's very powerful here. Go over to the book of Ephesians and we see something I think here that is very powerful in its nature. And it's something that we all have a part to play in. As we look down let's look to… let's see, where should we go to? Verse 16 is probably a better place to start. It says, "The whole body is joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, and the result, it causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." Now as we look at that, the vision statement, the Church includes this concept that all of us have a part to play in the preaching of the gospel. Every joint and every ligament has something to supply. We all have something to supply. And as a result, you know, we can say the gospel is preached and the Body grows. It's a healthy Body, not just talking about numbers, but talking about a spiritual Body, a healthy Body.
And what's interesting when we compare that to what happened to Daniel… Now, flip back to Daniel 6 and we'll see something that mirrors what we read there in Ephesians 4. Daniel 6, notice verse 26. Because Daniel was a man of commitment, conviction, and it showed in his godly conduct and had a relationship that was so close and so intimate with God, it impacted the king himself, and by extension, then, the entire kingdom. And so here's Daniel who obeys God no matter what, and as a result, the king writes a decree. Now, we're in Medo-Persia here, “The King Darius,” verse 25, it says, he “wrote: To all peoples, nations, languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you."
Verse 26, here it is. "I make a decree that in every dominion in of my kingdom men must tremble in fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, and steadfast forever; His Kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed. His dominion shall endure to the end. He delivers and rescues, He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions." How cool is that? I mean, we can say the gospel was preached because of Daniel's example. You know, did he ever stand before the king and say, "King, let me explain the gospel to you. Let me tell you all about God and His way and His plans." No, we don't have any record of that. But because of Daniel's behavior and his conduct, he was a living, breathing, shining example of God's way that the king became convinced that God really truly was God and that He was supreme. These words are absolutely amazing.
Now, I don't think the king was converted or anything. But, he sure recognized the very fact that "Boy, if Daniel believes it and all these things came to pass, it must be true. It must be true." And so then, as a result, we see down in verse 28, “Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” So amazing results, so that we don't ever want to shortchange what God has in mind for any of us. You know, to say, "Well, I'm just a church member." Well, wait, what did Daniel have? He was a slave in a foreign country. So we should never look at ourselves like that or “What could I possibly do, you know, to promote the truth of God?” Well, it might not ever get it… be getting up and giving a sermon. It may never, you know, be out there, you know, talking to somebody necessarily about the truth, but in your example, the way you live your life. You know, God's given us powerful tools that the gospel is preached, and the example is shown, and we can be that light that Christ talked about shining on the hill.
And so we can absolutely commit ourselves to that very thing and use the tools that God's given us. We don't want to shortchange that powerful tool of prayer because that's what's going to keep us close to God and continue to new to develop that relationship so that we are so close to God there's nothing that's going to separate us. The fact that we're going to stay close, we're going to humble ourselves before Him. Daniel certainly put into practice fasting and prayer as well. If you're still there in chapter 6, if you turn over a page or so, Daniel 9. Daniel 9:3 Daniel 9:3And I set my face to the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:
American King James Version×, we see that commitment to be close to God shines forth again in this example. In chapter 9 verse 3, "Daniel set his face toward the Lord God to make requests by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes." And you can read the whole story in the context of what that's about. But, it becomes very clear that he demonstrated throughout his entire life he was absolutely and totally committed and dependent on God. Dependent on God.
We can read of the stories of how whether he was living and things were going very well, or whether he was being persecuted and his life was at risk, he even prayed and gave thanks to God in those circumstances. He was gracious and showed gratitude to this God and didn't lose sight of God's presence and His blessings. And he was persistent in his faithfulness. And what made that possible was that close relationship. Being a man of prayer, that certainly is one of those keys that helped him to be a man of conviction and commitment despite the fact he was powerful, despite the fact that he had preeminence over the empire because we know the story. You know, when you have power, things start to go to your head. Right? And so when we consider those types of things, Daniel is a remarkable example that no matter the circumstances, he wasn't going to sacrifice that relationship with God.
And similar to what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. You might just write down 1 Thessalonians 5:17 1 Thessalonians 5:17Pray without ceasing.
American King James Version×. That's an admonition that Paul gives us where he said, "Pray without ceasing." In fact, not just pray without ceasing, don't ever give up your relationship with God. He also then says, "In everything give thanks." You see, that's the good, the bad, the in-between, no matter what. No matter what. And that's, in a sense, the dare that stands before us. You know, do we dare to be different than this world? Do we dare to have a different mindset than the world and its influence? Do we dare to stand for the truth when everything is demanding our compromise?
You see, we can stand for the truth. We can we can dare to be a Daniel. We can dare to be… We can live up to the lyrics of this old hymn where it says, "Dare to be that Daniel." Yes, even if it means you have to dare to stand alone. Certainly, Daniel was an example of that. We have to have that purpose. We have to purpose in our heart to stand firm and not be afraid to be… to let it be known. This is who I am, this is what I stand for, and God backs me up on my commitment to Him. And when we do these things, I don't think there can be any other result than the fact that we won't sell out. We won't compromise. We have chosen and set our minds that we are people of principle. We are God's people. We have chosen integrity over any other way of this world. And like a Daniel, that will find favor with others. That will make a difference. That will be a way that we can preach the gospel because God loves us, and He's with us, and He promises He's not going anywhere as long as we stay with Him.
And so as we look at this powerful example of Daniel, it's so encouraging because no matter the circumstances, no matter the man of power or the slave boy that was taken captive, he committed himself to God, and God was always with him. And so, let's dare to be a Daniel. Let's take that dare and commit ourselves to do whatever it takes so that we too can be people of commitment, we can be people of conviction, and, of course, people of godly conduct because we have such an intimate, close relationship with God. We're never going to leave His way, and we're going to follow His Word and His will no matter what.
Well, that's our study for tonight. I certainly appreciate you all being with us here in the room. And for those on the web, we do have a Bible study set for two weeks from tonight. We're going to be starting a new series. So watch the web for our little promos on, what's up next. And I'm sure you're going to enjoy the next series that we're going to be getting into next time. So thanks for coming tonight. Be safe on your drive home, and we'll look forward to seeing you next time.