Daniel: Being a stand up person in a bow down world (week 8)

Daniel: which city do you live for? 
Daniel 6:1-28

In Daniel 6 it is now the Medo-Persians under the rule of Darius (also known as King Cyrus) who have risen to power.  It was the largest empire the world had yet seen and so it required a well oiled system of governance and administration hence why at the beginning of this chapter we see the administration was set up with 120 satraps who ruled throughout the kingdom but who were made accountable to three overseers…one of which was Daniel.  These overseers responsibility was to ensure that the King did not suffer loss…in other words that no dodgy business went on within the kingdom and the administration itself.We read that Daniel distinguishes himself amongst his peers with his exceptional qualities. Qualities such as diligence, a great work ethic, honesty, humility, self-control, measured-ness, persistence and self-discipline. And these excellent qualities meant that the king trusted him unequivocally.  So much so that we read that the King had in mind to put him in charge of the entire kingdom…when Daniels peers catch wind of the King’s plan it invokes jealousy within them which leads to them devising a sophisticated plan in order to catch Daniel out and destroy.  Because they cannot find anything to use against Daniel, they devise a plan that  relies upon Daniels religious convictions.    The whole chapter therefore invites us to consider how do we respond to unfair treatment?  What can we learn from Daniel?  Well Daniel responds  by praying.  And as he prays he is taking a stand.  His prayer is firstly an act of defiance.  Instead of compromising his faith and giving in to the threat of lions, Daniel refuses to relinquish his commitment to Yahweh.  Secondly when he prays it is an act of submission.  In praying he is acknowledging that though He respects the King, he is accountable to a higher authority.  And thirdly it is a habitual act.  Daniel had forged the spiritual discipline of praying and when his faith was tested it was this habit that gave him both the courage and freedom to remain faithful.  The fourth thing to note about the way Daniel prayed was that in the direction of his prayers he was following the pattern of prayer that Solomon had demonstrated in 1 Kings 8:47-50.  Exiles were to pray towards Jerusalem and when Daniel prays towards Jerusalem he is remembering that though he lives in Babylon it is Jerusalem that he lives for.  Though he blesses the city that he finds himself in he does not worship that city but rather Yahweh.  By the time Daniel is lowered into the lion’s den the real battle has been won – the battle over Daniels fidelity and commitment to Yaweh.  It is a battle that we too have to face on a daily basis and the question we must always as ourselves is which city do I ultimately live for?

Listen to the sermon here

For discussion in communities:

Question to open discussion:

How do you think we as Christians should respond to unfair treatment? How do you think Jesus would have us respond to unfair treatment or antagonism towards us?

Read together Daniel 6:1-28

Q1.  What stands out to you about Daniel from this chapter?
Q2. The satraps know that Daniel is fiercely commited to Yahweh because Daniel is public about his faith.  What stops us from being more public about our faith?  How might we overcome that?
Q3.  What do you notice about King Darius? and his relationship to Daniel?
Q4.  What do you notice about the way Daniel prayed?  What could we learn from Daniel?
Q5.  What stops us from regularly praying?
Q6.  The satraps knew that Daniel was fiercely committed to His God, what stops us from being more public about our faith?
Q7. Daniel refused to compromise his commitment to Yahweh even temporarily, in what ways do you think we are tempted to compromise our commitment to Yahweh within our culture?
Q8. What could we learn from Daniel about how to be a stand up person in a bow down world from this chapter?

For accountability + prayer:

You can use these discussion questions either in smaller prayer and accountability groups or as a part of your own individual devotional life.


Q1. Confess to each other  areas of your life where you have been guilty of compromising your faith.
Q2. What are your habits of devotion like at the moment?
Q3. How might you help each other develop spiritual disciplines so as to honour God in your lives?

Pray for each other that you might develop devotional habits that help you to incline your heart towards God.

For personal devotion + study:


Monday:  1 Thess 5:16-24

Take a moment to meditate  upon this passage and ask the Holy Spirit to show you  where he wants you to grow and develop.
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.

23 May God himself, the God of peace,sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful,and he will do it.

 


Tuesday: rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances…

Consider your circumstances right now,what would it mean for you to find joy in your circumstances?  How could you develop habits of prayer through out your day?  What could you give thanks for today?


Wednesday: for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

So often we get caught up in wanting to know God’s will for our lives in the sense of what special things he wants us to do with our lives.  But here we have Paul encouraging us to think about God’s will for us being centred around how we develop and enjoy our relationship with Him.  What would happen if you concentrated less on the special purpose God has for your life and focussed more on how you could nurture your relationship with Him?  What might that look like?


Thursday: do not quench the Spirit.

The work quench here means to extinguish.  Have a think about what it means for us as christians to extinguish the Spirit’s fire and passion in our lives?  What things could we do to instead of quench the spirit, become more aware of the Holy Spirit in our lives?


Friday: do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all..

Here we see Pauls advice for both seeking the voice of God in our life through the prophetic whilest at the same time learning to weigh up prophecy in line with God’s revealed will through His word.  The word of God and the body of believers is our means of testing  what God might be saying to us.  How could you grow in this area?


Saturday: hold on to what is good,  reject every kind of evil…

Here we find Paul encouraging us to develop a keen sense of discernment around good and evil.  Discernment involves us judging in line with God’s holiness what is good for us and what is not.  What are some good things that you need to hold onto more?  And what are some evil things that you need to reject?