DARE TO BE A DANIEL
In 1876 Philip P. Bliss wrote a chorus to teach children about Daniel: "Dare to be a Daniel, Dare to stand alone! Dare to have a purpose firm! And dare to make it known!"
Daniel and his fellow Jews had gone through tough times in Babylon where they were held captive for a long time; upon their return to the homeland, life for them had become more difficult than ever, not only due to the barrenness of their surroundings but also the brokenness of their spirits.
In response to doubts about whether the LORD God could be trusted to fulfill the promises made to their forefathers, the Book of Daniel was written to reassure God's people of the LORD God's trustworthiness and the awesomeness of His ability to deliver from evil - if not immediately, ultimately.
Truth is: Tragedies happen . . . sacred truths we hold dearly are attacked . . . people die - some prematurely, some unmercifully, all eventually. Life is not as fair as we would like it to be . . . Sometime, somewhere, everyone goes through a period of despair which begs the question: "Does God really care?"
Daniel trusted God . . . that God cared . . . was in control . . . had been and would be his refuge and strength, an ever present help in times of trouble! Thus, the story of Daniel in the den of lions!
Lester Maddox, controversial governor of Georgia, spoke to a gathering of preachers in downtown Atlanta; when the time came for him to speak, he went to the podium and began by quipping, "I feel like a lion in a den of Daniels"!
In our lesson today, we find out how Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon felt after being tricked into signing a decree drawn up by politicians who, because of their jealously of Daniel's special favor with the king, would stop at nothing to get rid of Daniel - Daniel 6:6-22 . . . DARE TO BE A DANIEL:
Trust that God cares . . . is in control . . . is now, and forevermore shall be, our "refuge and strength - an ever present help in time of trouble". Therefore: Do not fear the outcome of a life entrusted to the care and keeping of the LORD.
Yes, we dread the thought of how this or that may occur . . . naturally, we feel anxious . . . humanly speaking, we share the agony of Jesus as He prayed, "Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me."
Who in his or her right mind would not plead for the Father's intervention? Yet, he or she who has developed the mind and spirit of Christ would not hesitate to add, as did Jesus our Lord, "Not my will but thine be done".
Dare to be a Daniel - even in matters "foreign" to us - so "foreign" that we cannot imagine "anything like that" ever happening to us!
There is so much in today's world considered "foreign" by those of us who have already attained or are in the process of attaining Daniel's age at the time he was thrown into the den of lions! 80 years old!
Dare to be a Daniel - even at our age - when challenged by those who would taunt us and make light of our firm belief in the LORD . . . His sovereignty . . . His plan for His people . . . who would mock us for calling upon "a Name that is above every name" for our salvation . . . petitioning the LORD to intervene in times of crisis and distress - individually and nationally.
Daniel firmly believed that the LORD God was in control even though "they" would discredit him . . . denounce him . . . damage his reputation . . . deceive the king - to satisfy their evil desire to kill a "good man" whose devotion to the LORD had impressed friend and foe alike.
Self-righteous, self-serving "pretenders" cannot stand the truly righteous who, in their humility, depend directly on God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit for their redemption . . . direction . . . protection!
No intermediary other than He who is, right now, at the right hand of God making intercession for us . . . No latter day self-proclaimed prophet . . . No place, person or thing - since Calvary . . . Christ (crucified, buried, risen) . . . the Resurrection. "Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy Cross I cling!"
How startled was the king to learn that Daniel - whose devotion to his living LORD was admired not only by the king himself but throughout Babylon - would be hauled before him for sentencing to death!
Who would have thought that Daniel's daily devotion and faithful exercise of a pattern of prayer adopted years ago - the private practice of a truly humble person - could ever subject him to such an evil consequence caused by the evil intent of evil doers?
Having heard about the unjust ruling, Daniel continued to observe his daily prayer times. Surely no one would object if, in his own home, in the privacy of his bedroom, prayed to God - as his custom was: "Morning, noon, and night I plead aloud in my distress, and the LORD hears my voice!"
What could be wrong with praying in private? Absolutely nothing. Yet, his praying was used against him!
Folks:That's how evil operates . . . connives . . . spies on people who choose the "straight and narrow" as opposed to the "broad" way . . . in our day strives to replace the Judeo-Christian ethic of moral uprightness with a "new norm" that says, in effect, "any god will do, immoral behaviors will be condoned".
Evil men used Daniel's devotion to the LORD God against him. Today, evil uses Christian beliefs and practices against Christians (via manipulating minds . . . twisting truths . . . redefining doctrines . . . turning brother against brother) - in order to infiltrate, indoctrinate, and recruit disciples for the Devil!
In the warfare that is waging for right vs wrong, our LORD depends on us and all Christians to remain faithful. The LORD's rescue of Daniel dramatically impressed upon the heart and mind of Darius the truth that, when all has been said and done, the LORD God is in control and will have the final say. Therefore:
Take heart! "For the LORD is the living God, and He endures forever. His kingdom shall never be destroyed. His rule shall never end. He shall rescue and save His people!"
Dare to be a Daniel and trust the LORD - no matter what!
Three years after Philip Bliss composed the chorus "Dare to be a Daniel", he and his wife were on a passenger train traveling through a snow storm in Ohio when a train trestle collapsed and plunged the train into a frozen riverbed. Bliss escaped, but his wife remained trapped inside. When fire erupted and engulfed the wreckage, Bliss rushed in to save her, but both of them died. So sad but true. Sometimes things don't work out the way they ought to. What shall we say to such trials and tribulations that push faith to its limit?
"The deepest level of my faith is praising the LORD in spite of the pain, thanking Him despite the trials, trusting Him when tempted to lose hope, loving Him when He seems distant and far away. For you see, at my lowest, the LORD is my hope. At my darkest, the LORD is my light. At my weakest, the LORD is my strength. At my saddest, the LORD is my comforter."
When pushed to his limit, Daniel "got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to God, just as he had done before." So must we! Amen!