Four marks of a God-exalting Life
- A consistent walk before God (Daniel 6:1-5)
- Continual fellowship with God (Daniel 6:10-15)
- Complete rest in God (Daniel 6:16-18)
- A confident testimony for God (Daniel 3:17-18)
I’m the guy that Pastor Pat was just talking about. I know normally when speakers come up here, they get like cool pictures and a cool music. But I am really thankful for the introduction Pastor Pat. I love him dearly. I love this church dearly. I started attending here when I was in college back 2009, 2010. And my wife and I got married in 2011. And we were here for a couple of years before I went to pastor at Holmes Baptist Church in Clarion, Iowa. And you’ve may have heard of Pastor Pat refer to his previous church. That was the church he formerly pastored before he came to Saylorville. We were there for several years and then for a year we were here as an intern. And now we’re at Calvary Baptist Church in Mount Pleasant. I get to be here with my wife of 12 years, Amber. and then we’ve got four kids with us, Kinley who just turned 11 yesterday, Elsie who is nine, Coen who is seven, and then Charles or Chaz who’s four. So it’s just such a delight to be here and open God’s word for you.
For a time together this morning, I want to strengthen your faith in Christ. I pastor a church in Mount Pleasant where we face deep and even traumatic suffering and sins, just like you do here at Saylorville. And the darkness of our culture casts its shadows over Mount Pleasant just as it does Saylorville. And so I wanna strengthen your faith and maybe for some of you, you’ll place your faith in Jesus today as you realize what kind of God we serve. But with all that in mind, let’s turn to Daniel chapter six.
Daniel chapter six may be a story, whether you’ve grown up in the church or not, maybe you’ve heard of Daniel and the lions den. And that’s what we’re gonna look at this morning. I’m gonna read the whole chapter, and then we’re gonna dive into how Daniel chapter six can strengthen our faith in a dark, ever darkening world. So here we go, Daniel chapter six, beginning in verse one, says this:
“It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”
Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.
When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”
Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him. Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”
Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. (Boy, were they infos a surprise!) Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.
Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.
Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,
for he is the living God,
his kingdom shall never be destroyed,
and his dominion shall be to the end.
He delivers and rescues;
he works signs and wonders
in heaven and on earth,
he who has saved Daniel
from the power of the lions.”
So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.”
We love hero stories, don’t we? And I’m not talking about the ones we see on TV. I’m talking about those heroes in our lives that we admire because they stood strong and they were courageous in the face of darkness. People we admire because of their selfless achievements in the face of adversity. People who lived virtuous lives. The story of Daniel is a hero story. And actually after I read this, it reminded me of one of my heroes. And you might be familiar with the name Corrie Ten Boom. Corrie Ten Boom was a World War II era Dutch watchmaker who, throughout the Holocaust, hid and rescued hundreds of Jews. And she was a faithful servant of Jesus. And she eventually gets found out. And she gets thrown into an all female concentration camp. One of the deadliest and most populated, I think at one time there are around 50,000 women in this concentration camp. Ravensbrook was the name of it. And there she was, in a barracks with ten times the amount of people it could fit, flea infested, disease infested, sickness infested, holding a Bible study in the corner, and preaching Jesus and praying for those cruel, torturous guards, all by living for Christ. Daniel lived out his faith in the midst of an unbelieving and ever-darkening world. And so the question we’re asking ourselves this morning, we’re asking of God’s word this morning is how can our lives exalt God in a dark world? How can our lives exalt God in a dark world? And I see four marks of a God exalting life from Daniel chapter six. So let’s get right into it.
Four marks of a God exalting life from Daniel chapter six.
Number one, here’s the first one, a consistent walk with God, a consistent walk with God. (Daniel 6:1-5) Now we’re not gonna take time to turn to Daniel chapter one, but I do wanna give you some context. Daniel chapter one, verse three, tells us that Daniel was born into one of the royal or noble families of Israel. He was in Israelite. And he was likely in his teenage years, probably early teenage years, 13 to 15, when he experienced the horrors of the Babylonian invasion. Daniel and scores of others as his people in his family, other kids his age, were ripped from their families and from their homes and taken captive. He would have witnessed many people he grew up around, slaughtered before his eyes. And this invasion and captivity began a 70 year exile of Israel from their land, brought on them by God himself because they rejected the God who saved them. And as a teenager, once Daniel arrived in the great city of Babylon, he was to be trained for diplomatic service. Yet even as a teenager, he had a consistent walk before God. As a young teenager facing such terrible sufferings, I’m sure there’s probably not many of us who would have kind of understood if Daniel was like, “Mm, I’m out, no… Like if this is the kind of God you are, if this is what happens when I serve and follow you, I’m done with you, God. I’ll just kind of make my own way from here. There’s no way I’m serving and worshiping a God who would allow such things to happen.’ But he actually did just the opposite. When he arrived in Babylon as a teenager, the king gave him a new name. It was Belteshassar, and Daniel 4 tells us that’s actually a name of one of Babylon’s gods. He got a new name, he got a new clothes, new hairstyle, new food, new diet, all of that stuff. What was going on is King Nebuchadnezzar, that was the king in Daniel chapter one. He sought to completely remake Daniel’s identity, but Daniel would have none of it. Here’s what Daniel chapter one verse eight says. It says, Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself. “He resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food or the wine that he drank.” Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with Babylonian food. Might have been some unclean foods in there, but nothing inherently wrong. Nothing inherently wrong with wine. for him to drink wine. So why did Daniel refuse what the king was giving him? Nice clothes, nice food. I mean, hey, I mean, as far as captivity goes, and that’s not such a bad deal, why did Daniel refuse? Daniel did not want to be ensnared by the temptations of the Babylon culture. Daniel would avoid anything that would compromise his identity as a child of God. I mean, just imagine this. A teenager telling a king of the world’s most powerful empire, ‘Sorry, king.. not happening.’ He had the audacity to cling to God when faced with compromise.
Now we fast forward to Daniel chapter 6, and now the Medo-Persian empire is in charge, which means that Daniel would have been well into his 80s in Daniel chapter 6. Okay, so from 14, 15 years old in chapter 1, now well into his 80s. And here we find the same Daniel, still having the audacity to cling to God when faced with compromise. A consistent walk before God.
What does a consistent walk look like? I think there’s two parts.
Number one, we must refuse to accommodate anything that would jeopardize or compromise our identity as children of God.
If you truly are a child of God through Jesus, we must refuse.
And then secondly, not only must we refuse, but we need to infuse the world with the love of Christ.
I love what the old Southern Baptist preacher, Vance Havner said. He said,
“We’re not going to move this world by criticism of it nor conformity to it, but by the combustion within it of lives ignited by the Spirit of God.”
And I love that word combustion, the combustion within it of lives ignited by the spirit of God. That’s what we need for a consistent walk. Christ loved, infused, and ignited in us, and just exploding into the culture. Daniel had the audacity to cling to God when faced with compromise. And it is the audacity. Do you have that audacity?
The second mark we see in this passage is not only did he have a consistent walk before God, but he had continual fellowship with God. (Daniel 6:10-15) Okay, so now we’ve got this 80 year old Daniel. He’s got positions second only to the king. What happens is all these other high officials, they get jealous and so they got to find a way to get rid of this Daniel. But there’s one problem. There’s no fault to be found with Daniel. Daniel wasn’t a Sunday only Christian. I mean, his fellowship with God saturated every aspect of his life, including in the workplace and in the community. So they had no ground to get Daniel killed.
It reminded me of an episode of The Office, if you’re familiar with it, it’s when the manager Michael Scott hates the HR rep, Toby Flenderson. And he wants to get him fired. And so he’s on the phone with the CEO, David Wallace. And he asks, is there any way we can get rid of Toby? And David Wallace, the CEO, replies, “Not without cause, Michael.” And Michael responds, “I have cause. It’s because I hate him!” And you know, didn’t work.
It didn’t work for Michael Scott in the office, and it’s not going to work for these high officials with King Darius. So they devised a plan. For 30 days, people could only pray to the king. They were often viewed as gods in those days. So the injunction has been signed, the law has been established, and the law said that Daniel could not fellowship with his God for 30 days. Now what if something was signed into law today that said you could not fellowship with your God for 30 days or your dead? How would you respond? For 30 days, the law said that Daniel, for all of his needs, all of his requests, all of his prayers, all of his thanksgiving had to go to the king alone. Otherwise, he was going to be thrown into a den of hungry lions. But Daniel didn’t break his fellowship with God for 30 milliseconds. He fulfilled what we read in Philippians chapter 4, verse 6. You’re familiar with the verse, “Do not be anxious about anything, (say the word) but (what?) in everything, (in everything, but in everything, in everything. The Greek word for everything means everything. And I didn’t have to study the Greek word. I just know it means everything. Everything is everything, right? In everything) by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving…[let your requests be made known to God.”]
And you notice in this passage, it says he went to his room and he gave thanks to God. Circumstances didn’t change Daniel’s heart.
And in moments of trouble, it all comes down to one question, what is most important to you? What do we value most? I know I’m often tempted to try to accommodate both. Like, okay, is there a way to like not compromise, was still kind of, you know, how close can the line? Can I get it? It was just like, hmm. For Daniel, was his fellowship with God was most important.
When I was growing up, my dad, he owned a business called Lincoln Neon Sign Company in Lincoln, Nebraska. Yes, I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska. Yes, I’m a Husker fan. Any other Husker fans out there? All right, other people who are depressed. Good. (audience laughs) But my dad, he grew up in this plastic sign and neon sign business and he passed away this past December and he left behind a number of different signs that he had collected through working (and we’ve got a picture of it here) and we recently bought a house and it comes with this huge shop. I’m the least worthy person to have a shop this big because I don’t have hobbies, I don’t do cars or woodwork or anything, but hey, I get to hang up my dad’s signs. You know, see the Burger King one there and a Pepsi racing and a couple of Coke signs and you know, a couple others. And while they were still sitting on the ground in the shop as we were moving, I would honestly be telling the kids like, no, no, no, get away. Don’t touch those. Hey, don’t rise your bike in here. Go away. No, I don’t want you to knock these over. Hey, don’t touch them. Like, why did I do that? Why was I so protective? It’s because these are dear to me. These are dear to me. I hold him dear, and I was willing to protect them ’cause we protect what we hold dear.
And for Daniel, fellowship with God was so dear to him, he wouldn’t let anything interrupt it, not even hungry lions. He knew that the king signed a document, and he knew that his sentence was to be torn apart and eaten alive by a bunch of lions. But Daniel just brushed it off his shoulder like a speck of dust, and went right to his room and prayed to God.
So what is so important in your life that it interrupts your fellowship with God? What is more important in your life than your fellowship with God? When do you find your fellowship with God interrupted the most? When we have continual fellowship with God in our house den, then we’ll be able to experience rest in the lion’s den.
And that leads us to the third mark, complete rest in God, complete rest in God, third mark of a God exalting life in an ever-darkening world. When you have a consistent walk before God and continual fellowship with God, then you will experience complete rest in God.
In this passage, you’ll notice there’s a lot of talking going on. The satraps, they’re constantly talking. The king, he talks quite a bit in this passage. But Daniel is only recorded to have spoken one time. And that’s pretty interesting because when you read through the Old Testament, it’s the words, It’s the conversation, the words that are being spoken, that sometimes really bring out the point of a passage. And he figured, Daniel, he only recorded saying one thing, which means that he didn’t go to the king, he didn’t try to save his life. He could have gone to the king and said, ‘Hey, king, you see just a bunch of jealous jerks who are trying to kill me. I mean, come on, don’t fall for it.’ Or he goes, ‘Hey, king, listen, I’m your favorite. Like, I’m the second in command. Like, can’t you do something?’ No. He didn’t do that. He did the exact same thing that one day Jesus would do. In 1 Peter 2, verse 21 through 23. Where Peter writes, he says, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you.” Suffered for you, leaving you an example. So that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin. neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return. When he suffered, he didn’t threaten, Daniel’s the second, he didn’t threaten these guys, he’s second in command. He says, ‘I’ve got more authority than you. You follow this through your dead.’ No, he didn’t threaten in return, but notice what it does say. He continued entrusting himself, resting in him or entrusting himself to him who judges justly. Jesus put his hands in his heavenly Father who judges justly. By the way, you wanna know what Daniel‘s name means? It means God is my judge. Daniel entrusted himself. He rested in him who judges justly. Jesus was sentenced to death because of malicious schemers and he entrusted himself. He rested in God, his heavenly Father. Daniel is sentenced to death because of malicious schemers. Yet, he is entrusting himself in resting in God, his heavenly Father. He knew that the God he served was the single God, he’s the only God, the saving God, and he’s also the sustaining God. He knew that the God he served provides rest. He knew that the God he served walks with us, walks with him through the valley of the shadow of death. He knew that his God was a very present help in trouble.
We came to town on Friday, and we were visiting with a young man who’s a member of the church that I pastor. His name is Nile. You may have heard Pastor Pat refer to him last week. He’s recovering at On with Life. And so we came in on Friday and got a chance to go hang out with him for a little bit. And while the kids play at the playground, and we were talking, and not very long after, we started talking, we started hearing crying and screaming. And then we saw our oldest daughter running towards us with blood all over her hands. And then we go over and check on our youngest, our four-year-old, and he had tripped on the chairs and just split his chin wide open. And so on Friday night, we got to go to Mercy One emergency room and get some stitches.
After the doctor was done stitching him up, something kind of weird, not normal to me anyways, happened. He said, ‘You know, they give us this kit. It’s got a bunch of tweezers and scissors and other things in there.’ He says ‘They give us the kit and it’s just a disposable kit that we’re just supposed to throw away afterwards.’ And he goes, ‘You know, there’s such good tweezers and stuff in here. What man doesn’t need a good set of tweezers for his toolbox or his fishing box?’ And he handed it to me and said, ‘Here you go.’ And he gave me the stuff he just used to sew up my son. There was still blood on the scissors. And the crazy thing, I’ve already used a few of those things. I was like, “Hey kids, we need to make another trip to the emergency room sometime… Like, ‘Let’s go. We can get some pretty cool stuff out of this, some high quality stuff.”
But that kind of remind me of what God does. God doesn’t just save us. He gives us the tools we need to heal and to be sustained.
These schemers, they only had one way to get Daniel. And that was to have a showdown between Daniel’s God and Medo-Persia’s God. And by the way, in case you don’t know scripture too well, anytime in scripture, anytime anywhere where the one true God is pitted against the false God, it never turns out too well for the false God. And Daniel was willing to have his God pitted against a false God even if that battle was his own life. if the battlefield was his own daily life. If his life needed to be the battlefield where the one true God showed himself to be, the one true God over false gods, Daniel was resting in that.
Brothers and sisters, it doesn’t matter how bleak things look. Anyone who pits our God against any other God is destined for failure. If not in this life in the life to come. Satan who is called “the god of this world,” he does not win. The gods of this world do not win. So, Christian, let malicious schemers come against you with all they got. Let them sentence you to death for the cause of Christ. Your God will not lose and he will not lose you. The God who saved Daniel from the power of the lions is our very present help in trouble. Does your soul find rest in that?
That brings us to our final mark. A confident, a confident testimony for God. [Daniel 3:17-18] A confident testimony for God. This isn’t the only example of a confident faith and a confident testimony. Remember Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? They’re faced with a fiery furnace if they don’t bow down to this idol. That was when King Nebuchadnezzar was in charge. Daniel chapter three verses 17 and 18, here’s what it says, here’s how they responded to the king about being thrown into the fiery furnace. “If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace And he will deliver us out of your hand, O King.” (By the way, God may deliver you from cancer, but it may be through death. And they knew this that God could save them from the fiery furnace, or God might save them by the fiery furnace. And then it says, “but if not, be it known to you, O King, we will not serve your gods, or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (And I love what the King says here, He runs the lines then because it says he cried out in a tone of anguish, which means he was 100% sure that Daniel was dead. He had, he had, he was totally confident. So he was, he was already starting to mourn the loss of Daniel. And so he comes and he says, ‘Oh Daniel, did your God save you?’ And he got an answer! Man, I wish I could have seen his face. Why didn’t the Bible record his face? I mean, imagine talking to a dead person and then the dead person talks back! Daniel immediately testified to the glory and goodness of God. [Daniel 6:22] “My God sent his angel and shut the lion’s mouths.” It’s also crazy as we read in here, in
Daniel 6:17. It says they brought a stone, they laid it over the den and they put their signet on there and it says that in verse 17 that “nothing might be changed concerning Daniel.”
Listen, we serve a God who does not change but who is the God of change and who changes people and can change you. If you think your destiny is locked in and there’s just no way out of your sin, God can save you, God can deliver you. And when we’re reading about this, we begin to realize that Daniel wasn’t the hero of this story. God was. We’re not the hero of our stories. You’re not the hero of your story. I’m not the hero of my story. Our hero, for those of you who know Jesus, our hero is the resurrected Jesus and reading these final parts of Daniel 6 with the king going to the tomb reminded me of that first Easter morning when those ladies went to the tomb, expecting to find a dead Jesus. But in Daniel 6, God conquered the lions and rendered them powerless, and rendered death powerless before Daniel in that tomb.
Jesus was sentenced to death on a cross, and he actually did die, paying all the sin debt of all who believe in him. I love what Colossians chapter two, verses 13 through 15 says, we’re talking about this Jesus, “you were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh.” You were dead, but it says, if you believe in Jesus, God made you alive together with Jesus. You’ve been resurrected with Jesus, “having forgiven us all our trespasses.” How could God possibly forgive all of our sins? Well, He canceled the record of death that stood against us with its legal demands. Well, how could God cancel the legal debt we owe to him because of our sin? And that’s where it goes on to say. It says “this he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” And by the way, while he did that, he also disarmed the lions. He disarmed the rulers by triumphing over them in him. Unlike Daniel, Jesus actually died and was buried in a tomb. But even greater than Daniel, Jesus went to the tomb and rose again three days later, disarming Satan, the roaring lion, rendering him powerless over the souls of those who trust in him. God is not asking you to overpower lions. He’s asking you to trust in the one who’s already defeated the lion, the prowling, growling lions. He’s asking for you to trust in Jesus.
It’s only through Christ we can sing the words of that old hymn, “What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the ever-lasting arms. What a blessedness, what a peace is mine, leaning on the ever-lasting arms. Oh, how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way, leaning on the ever-lasting arms. Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day, leaning on the ever-lasting arms. What have I to dread? What have I to fear leaning on the ever-lasting arms? I have blessed hope with my Lord so near, leaning on the ever-lasting arms, leaning, leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms, leaning, leaning, leaning on the ever-lasting arms.
The climax of Daniel chapter 6 comes at the very end, and here is our clear testimony to all who can hear and that you tremble in fear before the God of Daniel. For he is the living God enduring forever. His kingdom shall never be destroyed and his dominion shall be to the end. He delivers and rescues. He works signs and wonders. In heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.
Can I get a Saylorville boom-shocka-laka or maybe just an “amen” is fine too. And we’ll just go with that. Have fear and tremble for he is the living God.
Let’s close in prayer.
Our God as we think about this passage, and we understand that we live in a dark world, spiritually bankrupt, more and more malicious attacks coming on those who confess Jesus, certainly going on in other parts of the world. Lord, how can our lives possibly exalt you in such a dark world? And God, we’re thankful that we don’t have to be the hero of this dark world. We’re not, we can’t be. God, thank you that you’re the hero. And thank you that Jesus who rose again is the hero of our souls. So God, help us to trust you and to have faith in you. We pray that in Jesus name, amen.