Making Choices that Matter! #3

Sunday June 28th, 2015

Rev. Mouris Yousef, Pastor

 

Making Choices that Matter! #3

Daniel 6; Matthew 7:13-14

The story of Daniel in the lion’s den is one of the best-known and best-loved stories in all the Scriptures. It has encouraged the people of God for thousands of years. The story is filled with unexpected twists and turns, yet along the way we learn the secrets of Daniel’s success and perseverance. Somehow Daniel managed to survive and thrive in a spiritually hostile environment. As we continue our series, Making Choices that Matter, please allow me this morning to look at Daniel chapter 6.

In Daniel chapter 6, Daniel is now an old man. He came to Babylon as a teenager, and now he is about 85 years old. He has been in Babylon for about 70 years. As Daniel chapter 6 opens, Daniel is once again about to be promoted to a very high office in the palace. Evidently the new king, King Darius, recognized him as a man of integrity and wanted to make him second in command over the entire kingdom. That’s when the intrigue begins. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally in Daniel 6:4-5, these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.” Friends, the time is coming, and is already here when loyalty to your God will be the grounds for charges against you.

Daniel’s enemies succeeded in their mission. Once more, Daniel is facing death because of his faith and loyalty to the One true God. Yet, Daniel has not veered from the course he started on as a young man. He is still faithfully following and serving the God of his fathers. He is now serving under a new king named Darius who rules over a new kingdom, the Medo-Persian Empire. The names have changed as I pointed out but the spiritual challenge is the same. Will Daniel remain faithful when the pressure is on? Daniel’s story tells us how to live for God in a hostile environment. His example shows us that it can be done but not without discomfort. If we don’t compromise, we are sure to come into trouble sooner or later. How did Daniel manage to survive and thrive in a spiritually hostile environment? Two important factors we can see in Daniel chapter 6:

First: A Million Prayers

What do you do when you discover that your enemies have passed a law aimed at one person, and you are that person? How you respond at that point tells a great deal about your character. Daniel 6:10 reveals the secret of his greatness: “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.”

Note the last phrase – “just as he had done before.” For perhaps 85 years, Daniel had prayed three times a day. Perhaps it was 7:00 a.m., 12 noon, and 5:00 p.m. Each day was always the same. Wherever he was, he stopped to pray. Like clockwork, his daily routine revolved around three times of prayer. If he had a business trip to some remote province, he never varied. If he had a few days of vacation, it was the same. You could set your watch by his prayer times.

I did the math and asked myself, “How many times would Daniel have prayed if he prayed three times a day for 85 years?” The answer comes out to over 93,000 prayers. A million prayers! No wonder he simply went back to his room and started praying. An 85-year habit is hard to break. For him, prayer was like breathing. He wasn’t about to stop praying just because some snot-nosed satraps threatened his life. So when they tricked King Darius into signing the 30-day law, Daniel just went ahead with his daily routine. No big deal. He went home, knelt down, faced toward Jerusalem, and offered his prayers to his God. He did it knowing that his adversaries would catch him.

Lest it be thought a small thing to pray three times a day, consider this. At Elmer Presbyterian we have 60-70 people who attend each Sunday. Suppose each of us decided to pray three times a day. That would total about 1 million prayers offered to God by our congregation in a little bit over 15 years. Remember who Daniel is. He’s one of the top three men in the Medo-Persian Empire. No doubt he had a plate full of heavy responsibilities. Yet he still had time to pray three times a day. If you stop praying, the world will stop bothering you. The lions won’t come near you. Your family will finally think you are normal again. The lions win when we are silent. The great mark of true faith is that we keep praying.

Second: The Steadfastness of Daniel’s Faith

Daniel reminds us that it is possible to live a pure life in the midst of a thoroughly pagan world. Daniel’s story demonstrates that if you make up your mind (or “purpose in your heart”) to serve God, you can do it even in the very center of pagan government. Daniel was determined to stand for that which was right simply because it was right. He was determined to stand for the Lord regardless of the consequences. Daniel was determined to remain faithful whatever the cost, and for Daniel, the cost would be very high. Friends, the church would be a vastly different place today if church members had the same kind of commitment to the things of God that Daniel had. We allow everything in the world to come between us and our faithfulness to the Lord. Look at Sunday morning worship and how it has become an optional activity for the modern church member. Many are willing to sacrifice their commitment to the Lord on the altar of convenience, pleasure and worldly ambition. Pray that God may raise up some Daniels in our day. Pray that God may gives us some men and women who would settle for nothing less than absolute obedience to the will of God for their lives. “Be faithful unto death,” the Scriptures teach us. There is always a way to compromise for those who want to compromise. And there is always a way to obey God for those who want to obey God.

Let me conclude this sermon on a high note; a great truth that we also encounter in Daniel chapter 6. God can and God will use us to touch unlikely people when we are faithful to Him. Daniel chapter 6 emphasizes the powerful effect that Daniel’s personal integrity had on King Darius. While it is true that many of his colleagues envied Daniel and plotted to kill him, it’s also true that he made a huge impact for good on the mightiest man in the world. Daniel 6:26-27 states, “Then Darius offers public praise to the God of Daniel who is the living God who endures forever. He rescues and he saves, and he is the One who delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.” What amazing words coming from the lips of a pagan king. Or perhaps he is a pagan no more. Perhaps like Nebuchadnezzar he became a believer in the one true God. We won’t know for sure until we get to heaven, but I would not be surprised to see Darius there. We never know who is watching us or what they are looking for, but this story teaches us that a small minority of God’s faithful people can make a huge difference in the largest empire. For every satrap out there planning our downfall, there is a Darius keeping an eye on us, hoping that our faith may prove to be genuine. May be some Darius has his eyes on you right now. Be careful about what you do and say. Your example may be leading someone to heaven, or through carelessness you may be leading them in an entirely different direction. Daniel never made a big splash in Babylon, he just lived out the genuineness of his faith. May we all become modern-day Daniels. To God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen!

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