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Thursday, 06 November 2008 18:55

Daniel Challenge

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THE Christian walk is not about a continuous flow of mountain-top experiences! In the main, it is about the valleys -- with the storms and hassles of life constantly reminding us that the great challenge is how we face and deal with them!

There are probably four categories of “storms!” First and foremost, sin reaps its consequences and godlessness brings its setbacks. Secondly, satan does oppose believers!

It is his “normal” day-to-day business to bring disharmony and uphill. Thirdly, God does allow tough times for our own pruning and growth because He knows that the school of hard knocks is the most effective of all the learning institutions! And finally, our own stupidity often brings discomfort and displeasure.

We can view the storms and hurdles negatively or else we can be positive, accepting them as life’s training camps. This is easily discerned spiritually, but not always so easy to accept in the natural.

As modern Christians we find it hard to align God with exiling Israel and Judah as a price for their sin and rebellion. Indeed, Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar were God’s plan and He did ordain exile and captivity!

Through Jeremiah He told the people: “Don’t try and run away… don’t try and avoid God’s sovereign will. Serve Nebuchadnezzar that it may go well with you.” You must be joking! Those pagans! That would have been the popular response, and Jeremiah would have been mocked and scorned for such revelation.

“Don’t be afraid of the Chaldeans, I am with you BUT if you want to escape to Egypt your worst fears will overtake you” – all again from the mouth of Jeremiah! God’s promise to all believers is that He will be with us in all circumstances, but he doesn’t promise an easy time.

We will have His “peace” but He does not promise that the world will be at peace! Promises of peace and an easy ride would only come from false prophets, the Bible warns us! That is end-time, ear-tickling delusion!

Maybe we know all this? Maybe we are even excited because we see “peace, peace” prophets abounding -- and we know that the real good news is that all the bad news worldwide is in fact good news gospel-wise and end-times-wise!

But still, we as believers would like some encouragement. That was my plea before God. And the answer in my spirit was: Go read Daniel. I need Daniels! I need a Daniel church!

Daniel’s experience with the lion’s den was my text (Daniel 6). Initially it tells us that Daniel got himself into trouble because he “distinguished” himself, as an “excellent” spirit was in him.

The spirit of God was in him and there is no more excellent spirit. It is profound, it changes lives, it shows, is infectious and it makes a difference. It is an “aroma” to some and a “stench” to others, but it draws response, positive and negative, and it is highly recognisable.

The jealous and envious opposition wanted to find fault with Daniel but there was no corruption to be found, he was trustworthy and not negligent! We are to judge God’s servants by the fruit of their lives, so the Bible tells, but interesting here is the fact that he worked hard and excelled. He stood out, and that is what we should be doing with our gifts and talents in the worldly marketplace – working hard!

They could find no detractions so they had to trump up a religious charge. Interesting how easy it easy to stir up strife with dogmas, liturgies and formats. Every great move of God, man has managed to turn into “religion” of some form. And that ushers in discontent and strife because religion very easily becomes accusative, finger-pointing and divisive! Satan has revelled in man’s love of religion! And he is working very hard on his latest project – the all-roads-lead-to-God new-age- church! Beware, that is why we need to constantly pray for wisdom and discernment in these dangerous times.

Daniel was arrested for praying! I wonder how many of us would be arrested for spending time on our knees? People often complain about God being distant in their lives. Well, the answer could simply be found if you count the number of minutes each day you spend praying and reading your Bible, then divide it into the number of minutes available in the day! The percentage is probably in the “point nought nought” bracket! We need go no further in seeking an explanation.

Darius had to sentence Daniel but was reluctant, rather like Pontius Pilate. “May your God rescue you,” said Darius. And indeed God did just that. The lions didn’t have rubber teeth, as we saw later when the accusers were fed to them!

The book of Daniel’s theological theme is the sovereignty of God over the kingdoms of men. Daniel was absolute and childlike in his faith. He dared to keep a clean heart and body and God granted Daniel favour, knowledge, discernment, wisdom, gifts and talents. These were not just the “spiritual” church gifts!

And what’s more, Daniel brought those gifts into a plush, pagan king’s household, rather like Joseph and Nehemiah did. God wants us there, places us there. Daniel’s whole life was in Babylon – the ancient Hollywood.

He spent 69 years in a vile court! I wonder how many of us would have copped out? Daniel stayed but refused to defile himself. His friends refused to bow to the king’s statue and Daniel refused the king’s delicacies.

Daniel stuck to the simple basics, and we can translate that into simply seeking first the
Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Daniel steadfastly refused to accommodate the world’s values and traditions and he stood for God alone. He realised that worldliness and powerlessness are inseparably linked.

We think we have to compromise to get anywhere, because politics, diplomacy and democracy are based on the art of compromise. With God, we can so easily compromise ourselves out of His power and authority!

I believe God is calling for a Daniel church. This church may well get persecuted but it will not be manipulated. Daniel had a massive impact because the leaders looked to his God simply because Daniel refused to sell his God short!

Daniel stood apart even though he was directly involved in world affairs. Knowing God was not an excuse for him to sit back, but a good reason for him to go forward! He was salt and light! It was black and white living in a grey world! It was a working, not an idle faith.

God honours this type of faith. Spiritual lives are not something extra we pin on to our curriculum vita like a rosette! Christianity is an on-going everyday relationship, as is the sanctification process. It is not about religion, nor is it about elitist “super-spirituality.”

Christ in you, the hope of glory, makes it impossible to be a “secret agent” or an onlooker. Christians serve in and through their talents and areas of influence. That’s their mission field. It is total, radical and uncompromising but it is enjoyable as we serve God in our arenas with our talents. Somehow we have managed to distance ourselves from our responsibilities here on earth and we are not facing up to the issues of godlessness that daily confront us on the home front, in our cities and even nationally.

It’s time to be real, relevant participants, not just spectators. Daniel made a difference! He stood his ground, firmly rooted in his God! The Daniel church needs to begin rise out of the ashes of modern godlessness and compromise.

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