Stand: Stories of Courage

Introduction:
It is one thing to take a stand. It is another thing to take a stand when the stakes are so high. Israel was an enslaved, occupied nation. When things went south or when things went terribly wrong, Daniel and his friends couldn’t just quit their jobs and go somewhere else. In reality, their lives were at stake.  Add to that the jealous people trying to catch Daniel making a mistake and once they couldn’t find any fault, they opted to make false accusations. Finally they used Daniel’s faith and devotion to God against him. Daniel found himself in the Lion’s Den because he took a stand and because his adversaries hated his success and thought they had a foolproof plan to get Daniel out of the way.

Something To Talk About:
You probably have heard the story, but in summary: Daniel was given the bad news that King Darius cast anyone who worships or bows himself to anyone else, apart from the king himself, into the den of lions. But Daniel was a man who didn’t mind taking a stand. Daniel had a loyalty to God and he would not bow down to King Darius’ demands. Following his normal routine, he prayed to God. (v. 10) He did little to hide it, even opening the windows.

There are two things that caught my attention in this story. First, Daniel is a man who prays regularly. In other words, he didn’t start to pray when he was thrown into the lion’s den. He was a man who is regularly in the place of prayer. We can learn a great number of things from Daniel, one of which is to have a regular practice and place of prayer. It provides the foundation and confidence to take a stand.

Having done nothing wrong other than to make people jealous and conspire against him, you would think that Daniel would be a little bit miffed. But the Bible tells us that Daniel gave thanks. Here was a man who lived out 1 Thessalonians 5:18, which says, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It is easy to thank God when things are going well, but in difficult parts of life, it is not so easy. Especially in those times we stand for what we know is right, but end up feeling like we have been cast into a den of lions.

The thing that separated Daniel was his devotion to God. He was not concerned about what others thought of him. Above everything else, Daniel wanted to live only for God. Nothing could change the upward direction of his worship. Daniel’s witness was so strong that it made a lasting impression on the king. From the top of the lion’s den, King Darius shouted down, “Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you” (Dan. 6:16).

Matthew 5: 16 asks for an even stronger commitment:“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Questions:
1. They could find nothing to accuse Daniel of because Daniel was blameless. They expected to find something because they probably all had skeletons in their closet, but Daniel was a man of integrity. He had nothing to hide. How would we stand up under this kind of scrutiny? What is the first thing that accusers would find that we would need to get rid of?
2. Did Daniel change any of his habits after he heard the law was passed? Why not? What does this reveal about his character? What would you do if this law was passed today?
3. If you wanted to model your life after Daniel’s, what would be the first thing you would have to change?
4. What can we learn about prayer in Daniel and the lion’s den? To pray as Daniel did requires great spiritual discipline. What spiritual disciplines do you need to work on in your life? What strategies will you put in place this week to be more disciplined in your spiritual life?
5. Are there peaks and valleys in your faith in God. Do you know people whose faith in God is nothing short of amazing? What gives them that much confidence in God? What is the difference between faith and trust?
6. What have you learned about the greatness and power of God in the 6th chapter of Daniel?

Take One Thing Home with You
Daniel will be cast into the lion’s den. How will he fare? Will he be fearful? Will he be cowardly? Will he compromise and stop worshiping God?

Well, what is remarkable about Daniel is that his faith in God remains the same. I believe true faith is enduring. Reflect a minute on the remarkable statement in verse 23. “The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.” That is a remarkable statement. You’d expect him to be lunch or maybe dinner. But he didn’t have a scratch on him because God supernaturally preserved His servant. Daniel’s faith is remarkable. It is remarkable because he kept his eyes on God.

Daniel could have temporarily fixed his eyes elsewhere, at least during this crisis. He could have adapted, or compromised. He could have made an accommodation, put his values and principles on a short hiatus, had a understanding or tried to abate his differences with his accusers, but he did none of those. Daniel could have been bitter at Darius. He served him carefully and got the lion’s den for his service.  But Daniel’s eyes were not on Darius, they were on God. Daniel’s eyes were also not on the plotters, the schemers of his death. He could have been but he wasn’t. Daniel’s eyes were also not on the lions.

The Bible simply tells us that he kept his eyes on God, he believed in God. How important this is. Keep your eyes on God. Maybe you are facing a lion’s den situation. Maybe you could think of people that have caused you to be in such a situation and you are tempted to be bitter, to be angry, tempted to take revenge, tempted to despair. Be a Daniel, keep your eyes on the Savior and take a stand.