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Open Your Windows

Scripture: Daniel 6:1
Date: 02/05/2000 
The story of Daniel in the lion's den parallels the life of Christ. Jesus was sought to be accused and was eventually unjustly murdered. The state participated in both efforts to kill God's prophet and Jesus. But the Lord not only delivered Daniel from the lion's, but Christ was delivered from the tomb.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Good morning. I’d like to share with you today probably one of my favorite messages. It’s called “Open Your Windows.” Now I’ve been preaching I guess right around 20 years. I’ve been in this conference a little more than 15 years. You know I was preaching as a layman for a few years and hoping that counts. And when I first began to open God’s word one story in particular jumped out at me with unusual force, encapsulating the gospel and the picture of Jesus. And that will be out subject for today. It’s Daniel 6, the story of Daniel and the lion’s den. Probably one of the greatest passages in any sacred oracle. Daniel 6. You know I have a record of every message that I’ve preached here since I’ve been at Central. It’s been over six years, seems like an eternity, I know. And I thought, “Well, I’ve done this here before.” And I looked and I looked and I couldn’t find it. I’ve done it at revivals while I’ve been here at different camp meetings.

I thought, “You mean, I’ve never preached this sermon in my own congregation Sabbath morning?” And so, now I may have, but it’s not in my notes. So just to make sure that you’re not missing out I wanted to share this with you because it is one of my favorite messages in the Bible. Daniel 6, let me give you the background before we enter the story. Daniel had been carried away as a young man probably somewhere between 12 and 17. King Nebuchadnezzar carried him away with some of the other noble children from Judea. He, with his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, were taken into the palace. You know how through Daniel’s standing firm on what he ate God gave him increased life and wisdom. Through Daniel’s interpreting the dream of Nebuchadnezzar’s image he was given the position of prime minister. But then when Babylon was overthrown, after the handwriting was on the wall in chapter 5, all of the leading administrators in the Babylonian cabinet were executed except Daniel. Because after all Daniel was not a Babylonian by birth. He was simply there by virtue of being a captive. And his reputation had preceded him. The Medo-Persians had heard about this prophet of God who had even predicted the fall of Babylon. And when King Darius set up his kingdom rather than execute Babylon he gave him a position in the new government.

That’s unheard of. His counsel was so valuable that even though he had served his enemy he wanted to keep him on the staff. Now before I go any farther let me tell you that I don’t have a lot of formal education and I struggle as a new Christian saying Bible names. And I remember when I would sit in bible study groups and we would go around and read passages and the leader would expound and I knew my time was coming to read some passage of scripture. If there were any Bible places or names I became very uneasy because as I would read them invariably people would laugh. I couldn’t pronounce them. So I got the Bible on tape and Alexander Scorbee, how many of you have heard him speak? You know he passed away, but he did two versions of the Bible on tape and just perfect diction and pronunciation. I listened to that, I still listen every day, for years and my name pronunciation has improved. But the name Darius is often pronounced Darius. How many of you have heard both pronunciations? So this morning I said, “I’m going to get it right and I’m going to settle the issue.” On my computer I’ve got a program that says every word in the Bible. It’s really great. It’s called the New Unger’s Talking Bible Dictionary. It says the words. And whenever I’m in doubt I’ll play those words and I click my little mouse on the word again and again and it’ll say, “Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar,” until I get it right. And I’ll hear myself saying it. And that’s how I’ve gotten as far as I have. Now I still have a lot to learn.

So this morning I thought, “I’m going to settle the issue,” and I found Darius’ name and I clicked on it and it said, “Darius, sometimes pronounced Darius.” So I’m no further along than I was. Whether you like Darius or Darius it’s the same fellow. He was about 62 years old. He was a Median king. Later Cyrus was the Persian king. It was a joint empire. And it says, “It pleased him,” verse 1, “to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty princes, to be over the whole realm; and over these three governors; of whom Daniel was one, or chief: that the princes might give account to them, and so the king would suffer no loss.” In other words, for one thing, taxes were collected from all over the realm. They were given to these various administrators who then passed them on to the chief governors and Daniel was the prime of the governors. And the king is considering making Daniel Prime Minister. But some of the other men in the king’s cabinet really did not like having Daniel over them for a couple of reasons. First of all, he was a foreigner. And they didn’t really like the idea that here this captive from Judea who had then served their enemy, Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, would now be over them. You could understand why that would be aggravating to people with normal human emotions. But what really bothered them was in a position of chief tax collectors for the empire, Daniel being so honest and trustworthy, they could not do any extortion on the side. Because Daniel was faithful. And they thought, “We’ve got to get him out of the way.

He’s making us look bad.” And what really bothered them, it says in verse 3, “Then this Daniel distinguished himself above all the governors and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to set him over the whole realm.” “Well, I can leave town and make him Prime Minister. He’ll take care of everything.” Same thing Potiphar did with Joseph. Everything Daniel touched was blessed. You know that’s one of the characteristics of those that really are faithful in obeying the word of God is they leave a wake of blessings behind them. And people who observe them can see that God is with them, that their endeavors prosper. Because they bring the principles in truth in everything they do. And the king observing him thought, “Boy, everything he touches prospers. I ought to make him Prime Minister.” When the other governors got wind that the king was going to exalt him one more notch that was unbearable. They thought, “We’ve got to get rid of him. We can’t have this. What about us? We should have been promoted?” And all those things you’ve heard before when someone gets passed up began to aggravate them. So, verse 4. Oh, wait.

I don’t want to rush past an important point. It says, “because an excellent spirit was in him.” Have you ever asked God to help you be spirit possessed? I word it that way because typically if I were to say to you, “I met somebody yesterday and they were spirit possessed,” what would you automatically think of? What spirit? Spirit of the devil. We all know that he possess people. And if I said to you, “You want to be spirit possessed?” You’d say, “No, not me.” Right? But sometimes I think we give the devil more credit than God. We all believe the devil can tempt us to sin, but a lot of people, even in the church, do not believe that God can keep them from sin. They’ve got a stronger devil than a God. Satan is bigger to them than their Savior. Well, the Lord wants to possess His people with His Spirit. But the difference is we must ask for the Spirit. You know the Bible tells us that, “If you being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” We are to ask and it’s to be a continual asking for the Holy Spirit. And wouldn’t you like to have people know you as the one who has an excellent spirit? You ever met somebody like that? You know in your lifetime you’ll meet a handful of people who have an aura they carry with them. They don’t need to say they’re Christians.

You can look at them and know they’re a Christian. Have you met folks like that before? I can think of a couple of times when I was traveling and I would meet somebody somewhere. I was one time at a courthouse in Ukiah, California and asking the lady behind the counter to help me recover some document information and I was with a friend who was a fellow Christian. And I said, “Olly, what do you want to bet that she’s a Christian?” He said, “I was thinking the same thing.” There was just a cheerful, clean aura that was with her that is something that typically only Christians really enjoy. And so we finally said, “Are you a Christian?” She said, “Well, yes.” She was a little embarrassed. We said, “We could tell.” That made her very happy. I later found out she was a Seventh Day Adventist Christian. But some people, you can look at them and you can tell. And Daniel had that aura about him that the Spirit of God was in him. That’s another reason the other leaders wanted to get him out of the way. Light makes darkness stand out in bold relief. Why did the religious leaders in Jesus’ day hate Him so much? Because of His badness, or was it His goodness? Wasn’t His badness. Jesus said, “For which of my miracles do you want to stone me? Because I raised the dead? Because I fed people? Because I healed people? Why do you want to kill me?”

They had no answer. They didn’t hate Jesus because of His badness; His goodness was so genuine it made their counterfeit holiness stand out. Christ’s purity and sincerity made their hypocrisy stand out in bold relief. They wanted to destroy Him because of His goodness. Why did Cain want to kill Abel? What did Abel do wrong? It’s because of what he did right. Why will God’s people be persecuted in the last days? Because of our badness or because of our obedience that is a constant rebuke to the inconsistency of other Christians who claim to believe in God, but don’t obey Him. Will it be our badness or our goodness that causes problems? All that live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. And Daniel’s godly living generated their wrath. “So the governors and princes sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom.” They said, “Well we’ve dealt with this before, you know. We’ve had to work on some other politicians that didn’t cooperate or had to get them out of the way. We just get the private investigator; follow him around, usually 24 hours we’ve got more dirt than we know what to do with. Get the private eyes to spy on him. We’ll probably find that he’s hanging out in the wrong part of town. We’ll snap some photos. Look into his file cabinet and see that he’s cheating on his taxes. We’ll find something.” Well they hired the private detectives and you know what the record is? That, “they could find no charge or fault; because he was faithful, nor was there any error or fault found in him.”

Now, if we were to just stop right here with the message and focus on that verse there’d be plenty to think about. Here you have a human who has a relationship with God where other humans scrutinize him and can find no fault in him. Incidentally, as I go on I want you to think about the parallels between Daniel and Jesus. Did the religious leaders spy on Jesus? Was it His badness or His goodness that threatened them? Wasn’t it that the king, Darius, thought to set Daniel as number two in the empire that really bothered them? Wasn’t it that Christ said that He was the Son of God that really bothered the religious leaders, that He was number two in the universe? A lot of parallels here. Didn’t Pontius Pilate say, “I find no fault in him?” Didn’t they have spies trying to trip and trap Jesus and they were always coming back saying, “Never a man spake like this man. We can’t get anything on him. We follow him around and we find out how good he is.” “Nor was there any error or fault found in him.” Now I don’t want to rush away from this point without making a very simple discovery. Daniel was made of the same stuff that you and I are made of. If it’s possible for Daniel to have a relationship with God where the world sees his holiness and his purity and his consistency in obeying God then is it possible for you and I to have that experience? He was just as human as you and me. “Then these men said, We’ll not find any charge against this Daniel, unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.” Not our law, but the law of his God.

Now what does that mean? I mean they end up making a law, but they said, “We’re not going to find anything against him unless we use the laws that he lives by against him.” They knew that he was very faithful to obey the law of God. I mean the fact that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would not bow down to the image because it violated the Hebrew law of idolatry and the differences they had in their laws was well known throughout the empire. They knew that Daniel was faithful to put God supreme. They thought, “We’ve got to use that against him.” What was it that finally the religious leaders brought to Pilate? Remember they said, “You know, he’s breaking your laws because he’s calling himself a king.” What’s going to happen against God’s people in the last days? Isn’t’ the law of God going to be the issue of conflict that will be used against us, the law of our God? You know this is a very important story for us to consider right now if for no other reason it’s because these very themes we’re going to have to face. We need to know how to access the same power that Daniel had. “So these governors and princes throng before the king and they said to him, King Darius, live for ever. All the governors of the kingdom,” they lied. It was not all of them. “All the governors of the kingdom, and administrators, and princes, and counselors, and advisors have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any God or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.” Now, and then it goes on and says, “Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which does not alter.

Therefore king Darius signed the writing.” Now you might be thinking, “This fellow’s got one enormous ego. He writes into law a law that cannot be changed that nobody in the empire should pray to any god, any of the gods and there were gods all over, or man except him. Nobody prays in this empire for 130 provinces, 127 provinces, nobody prays to anybody but him for 30 days. He wanted the prerogatives that belong to God. Now isn’t that what the devil wanted. Here you’ve got a conflict about who to worship. And they knew that Daniel would not go along with that. They knew enough about his law that he could not do that. Why did King Darius sign the law? Was it just because it appealed to his ego? I don’t think so. First of all, he didn’t think it up. So his ego wasn’t that big. Secondly, it was a common practice back in bible times that when a new empire was being forged that the reigning monarch would try to weld all the people together from all of their different backgrounds by virtue of common worship. You know one thing I love about pasturing here at Central Church is that we are a hodge-podge melting pot of people from all stratas and every nation, race of society. And I like that. I really do. What is it that brings us together? Common worship. Common worship. You know it’s a fact that when you cannot unite people through political parties you cannot unite them even through language. There are people over in Yugoslavia and Bosnia, speak the same language killing each other. It’s not just language that unites people.

It’s not government that unites people. But you can often unite people with great diversity through common worship. Why do you think Nebuchadnezzar made that golden image? Was it just his ego? And he brought everybody together to inaugurate this new worship. He was hoping to bring them together through common worship. In the last days what does prophecy tell us? What is the devil going to do to form a one-world force? Is it going to be one-world government? No, Daniel 2 says, “They’ll not cleave one to another.” There is never going to be one-world government, United States of Earth. We’re not going to have that. But is there going to be universal religion? Yes, have you read in Revelation 13 that the beast power compels all to worship? Small and great, rich and bond, free and poor. There is going to be universal worship and the devil is going to try and finally solidify his rebellion against the Father by saying, “Everybody on the planet worships me, this is my world. I am the god of this planet.” But there’ll be this dissident group that does not recognize him. Just like Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Question is where will you be when those issues begin to pop up? So Darius is listening to his advisors and they say, “Look, you’ve got this new empire, got a new cabinet, if you want to get people to pull together you’re going to have to get them all to recognize you.” Why do you think the Caesars told people that they were gods? Why do you think the pharaohs told people that they were gods? They knew they weren’t gods.

I mean, you know, if you live with yourself you know there’s some very undivine things about all of us, right? They did it because they knew the people needed to believe it to get the kind of obedience and unity that would solidify their empires. So this is I think part of why Darius signed the writing. Now don’t miss this point. It says here, “Make a firm decree, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians so it cannot be changed, which does not alter.” We’re already learning something about the law and the counselors are emphasizing that aspect of this law. Does not change, firm decree, cannot alter. Because they know that the king’s going to wake up one day and find out what they’re doing. Now this is the part of the story that I really think is wonderful. Verse 10. Do you have your Bibles open? Daniel chapter 6. If you just stay in Daniel chapter 6 we’ll be here and you’ll get something without having to flip through the scriptures quite a bit. Read verse 10. Why don’t you read it with me? You have it? Daniel 6:10, “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home, and in his upper room; with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.” I apologize. I forgot we had so many different versions. Sounds like Babylon. But you get the point. Don’t miss this. Daniel knew about the law. Now what was the law? If you pray to any god or man for 30 days except to the king you’re going to the lion’s den.

Now what was the equivalent of going to the lion’s den? It’s a death decree. And it’s not a very pleasant death. You’re going to be torn limb from limb by these wild Asian Lions. And they were very ferocious. Daniel knew what the consequences would be. And in spite of that he does what he always does, he goes to his room. Some of us might say, “Look, only 30 days. I can shut my window for 30 days. I mean, after all, doesn’t the Lord say, ‘Enter into your closet and shut the door when you pray?’” Christ is saying, “Don’t pray for the purpose of making a spectacle,” when He said that. When you pray, pray to God. But you see Daniel had a habit, he had several habits. They were good habits. There’s nothing wrong with being religious. Some people think there’s virtue in saying, “I’m spiritual, but I’m not religious about it.” Religion means that you’ve got some regiment to your spirituality. And Daniel had a regimen. He had a custom. What was that custom? That three times a day he would pray with his windows open on his knees towards Jerusalem. Why did he do that? Well, there’s several reasons. First of all, I’d like to establish something I think I can support from the Bible. Daniel read the Bible, the scriptures that were available at that time. Notice here in Daniel 9:2, “In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by the books the number of years, specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet.” He recognized that Jeremiah the prophet is speaking the word of the Lord that He would accomplish. Why did he pray three times a day? Well I think it’s because Daniel had memorized the Psalms of David. Psalm 55:17 says, “Evening, morning, and at noon, I will pray, and cry aloud: and he will hear my voice.”

Daniel read the Bible. Why did he pray towards Jerusalem? Because Daniel read in the Bible when King Solomon dedicated the temple, if you’re carried away to a foreign land, II Chronicles 6:21, “That you may hear the supplications of your servant, and your people Israel, when they pray toward this place.” Daniel not only read the Bible he did something that’s unthinkable. He not only was a hearer of the word he was a doer. He’d read it, he’d do it. Can you say amen? It’d say three times a day, he’d say, “That’s not a good suggestion. I’m going to do it. It’s a command.” Not only suggest you pray towards Jerusalem, he made sure and rented some quarters that were aiming to the west where he could pray towards the Holy City. He took it literally. Now for 70 years approximately Daniel had been in Babylon. And everybody that had known Daniel for 70 years, rain or shine, saw his windows open up three times a day, saw his face glowing with that heavenly light, saw him on his knees, a physical posture of prayer, praying to his God toward the Holy City, Jerusalem. Part of that prayer represented that he believed someday they’d be back in Jerusalem. And they were. You know what else I don’t want you to miss about this story? It says, “And he gave thanks.” Would you give thanks if you knew you were about to be cat food? How thankful would you be? The Bible says, “Give thanks in all things.” Daniel got on his knees and he let his light shine. He was not going to hide his relationship with the Lord. You know, this is so important. He would not compromise; he would not stall. You know, I have often seen what the devil does. Someone learns the Sabbath truth and they go to the boss and they say, “You know, I need the Sabbath off.” And the boss says, “I tell you what, I’ll give it to you in 30 days. All you’ve got to do is violate your conscience for 30 days.” Well at the end of 30 days it doesn’t matter anymore. The devil knows that.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, when the trumpets blew and they unveiled this golden image and everybody bowed down. They could have said, “Hey, look your moccasin’s untied.” “Hey, you, too.” And they could have all gotten down and tied their shoes so they wouldn’t stand out. I mean we don’t want to make a spectacle. We’re going to ruin the ceremony. God is looking for people who will not compromise, who will stand up, who will open their windows and let everybody see. Daniel could have opened his windows and prayed standing up and they would have thought he was just talking to himself. But he physically got down in a posture of prayer; they’d know he was praying. Why did he do that? He was a fanatic. Isn’t that right? Sure, I don’t care what you call him he did the right thing. Maybe he was a little fanatical. You know why? Daniel was fanatical about his relationship with God. God was more important to him than his own life. And who knows, he might have been thinking to himself, “Hey, I’ve served you faithfully for 90 years,” incidentally, he had been there 70 years, he could have been pushing 90 years of age when this happened. He says, “I’m not going to compromise now. Everybody’s watching.” People all over the capitol saw the decree posted every where and I expect that there was a gathering looking through their windows wondering, “What is Daniel going to do?” after this decree had been heralded throughout the city. They read the writing and they thought, “Nobody prays to anyone but the king. I wonder if Daniel’s windows are going to open up tomorrow morning.” And everybody up and down the streets were peeking around the corners and opening up their blinds wanting to see, “What is Daniel going to do?”

Daniel knew if he shut his windows that day he would shame God. So there was a lot at stake. People were watching. You know people are watching you. I understand a little bit about this. Sometimes you think that being a famous television preacher is something to be desired? It’s intimidating. I go to the store and I’m walking around the drugstore, you know, and I forget sometimes that there are people in town who see me on TV. And I’m upset about something and I’m scowling, you know, and I’m walking around the drugstore and I’m buying stuff and all of a sudden someone says, “You’re that pastor on TV.” And I find myself going, “Yes, that’s me. Glad to meet you.” And then I start thinking, “Oh, don’t let them see the antacid in my basket. They’re going to find out I’ve got acid in my stomach and then what will they think of me?” You know, and you become very uneasy that people are watching you. You know and even if there’s no cameras rolling angels are watching you all the time. And we need to remember, in all that we say and do, not only is it the people in the world, but there’s a great controversy in every reaction you have to the trials that come either make the demons cheer or the angels cheer. Either the demons mourn or the angels mourn. You and I are spectacles in this theater of the universe. And Daniel knew whose side he was on and he was not going to shut his windows. He was not going to shut his mouth. And he got on his knees and he prayed and he thanked God. That to me, I still every time I read that one verse it is just so incredible. Why did he do that? Because there was a big test that day he decided it would be important to do it that day. Why did he do it that day? It says because it was his custom.

What’s a custom? Luke chapter, you know I looked up this phrase his custom. The phrase his custom is found three times in the Bible in my version, New King James. And it says in Luke 4:16, “So he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.” Jesus had a custom of going to the church on the Sabbath and reading the Bible. The second time you find his custom, Acts 17:2, “Then Paul, as his custom was, he went in to them, and for three sabbath days reasoned with them from the scriptures.” Do you think it’s an accident that it’s telling us there’s a connection between custom, his custom in Daniel and then Jesus and the apostles going to church on the Sabbath and reading the Bible? You know why the book of Daniel is in the Bible? It’s because there was a simple layman, Daniel was not a priest, he was not a preacher, per-se. Daniel was a businessman. He was a politician of all things. That sounds like an oxymoron, right? An honest politician. Here he is a politician and he made sure that the priority in his life is personal devotions.

He takes time with God in reading the word of God and he takes time with God in prayer. Now some of us think we’re too busy. Daniel was probably busier than anybody here and he found time for prayer, not just kind of a flippant prayer to God as we run out to the car and hop in on our way to the day. But Daniel reserved quality time with God three times a day. And if he could find time for that then I wonder how we can excuse ourselves saying, “Oh, I’m too busy God today.” Sometimes you’ve got to choose to do it because you know you need it even if you don’t feel like it. It doesn’t say Daniel felt like praying that day. I read somewhere, “The best time for prayer is not found it’s made.” The best time for prayer is made. You must choose to reserve time with God. And you too can have a custom where you have regular devotions with God. For one thing it’s a good idea to wake up in the morning and decide that you’re going to spend time praying and reading the Bible before all the affairs of the day crowd in around you. Karen and I were talking about this last night. Psalm 119:9, “How can any man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to your word.”

Then you go to verse 11, “Your word I have hid in my heart, that I might not sin.” I want to read something to you from Great Controversy, page 51. “Satan well knew that the Holy Scriptures would enable men to discern his deceptions and withstand his power. It was by the word that even the Savior of the world had resisted his attacks. To every assault Christ presented the shield of eternal truth saying, “It is written, it is written, it is written.” To each suggestion of the adversary he opposed in wisdom and power of the word. In order for Satan to maintain his sway over men and establish his authority he must keep them in ignorance of the scriptures. The more of the scripture you have in you the less of the devil you’ll have in you.” “They word I have hid in my heart that I might not sin.” The Bible tells us that the word of God, it’s the sword, it’s the rock, it’s our bread, it’s our light. We need all these things desperately.

How can we expect to have a vital relationship with God; some of us are faithful about coming to church because you’ve got the custom. You’ve been raised with it. It’s ingrained and you feel guilty if you don’t, but you have no devotional life. I know, I’ve had a lot of you folks been raised in the church you told me, “You know I’ve been in the church all my life, went to Christian school, I came out of obligation, but then I found Jesus and now I’ve got, I’m reading my Bible and my experience is coming alive.” You’ve got to have your own relationship with the Lord, friends. Jeremiah 15:16, the word of God should be as important to you as physical food. “Your words were found, and I ate them; and your word was to me the joy in rejoicing of my heart.” Job 23:12, “I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.” Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Are you hungering for the word of God? Daniel read the Bible. Daniel prayed and Daniel witnessed. Now it doesn’t mean Daniel got up and he preached from his window, but he witnessed in his daily affairs. You notice what the people said when they followed him around? They couldn’t find any fault in him.

King Darius said that he realized an excellent spirit was in him. And we need to be willing to witness for the Lord. You’ve heard me say before one of the people that had an impact on my early experience as a Christian was a Jewish-Christian that lived in Palm Springs, California. I don’t even know his last name. Everyone on the streets called him Brother Harold. And he was a convert to Christianity, an incredible man, a very humble man. He got a lot of his food from the day-old bakery and sometimes I caught him rooting around in the dumpster. But I remember I went up to his little room, he lived in an upper room behind some store, and I followed him up the stone steps to his upper room one time and his room was just surrounded with books and his table was covered with lexicons and Bibles. And he told me; he said he wakes up 4:00 every morning to read the word of God. And he reads it in the Hebrew and he reads it in Greek. This man was a giant of Christianity and nobody knew him. And then his day was made up of going to the hospital in Palm Springs and he would go from room to room, find out what their problems were, read some scripture to them. And his voice, whenever he quoted the scripture I always watched him close his eyes; he knew it from memory. And his voice would tremble. It’s like, “I have no right to say these words, Lord.

Please let me say them.” And his voice would tremble with awe as he spoke the word of God. I never met anybody like him. He’d recite scripture from memory like Psalms 23 or something. He was sort of a self-proclaimed hospital chaplain. No one ever hired him. Sit on the main corner in Palm Springs and he would hand out tracks that talked about the love of God. And I remember sitting near him one time; I liked to just be near him. He was one of these people I told you about that had that aura of Christianity. I was sitting near him one time and one of the crazy street people sat on the opposite side of him and Brother Harold said, “God is love,” or “God loves you.” And this guy said, “I love the devil.” Now this fellow, I looked at him and I thought, “Wow!” He looked demon possessed. And Brother Harold looked like he was shining with the glory of God. And as soon as Brother Harold realized that this man said, “I belong to the devil,” and he was trying to intimidate him he paid no more attention to him. He wouldn’t parlay with him. It’s like he had said, “The Lord rebuke thee,” and he continued to witness to people on the street. And the other guy tried to draw him in and bother him. And I was watching this great controversy go on. And it’s like someone here filled with the Spirit of God and someone else demon possessed. And he couldn’t touch Brother Harold. Brother Harold was like a 70 year old man. This was some young kid who was wild; he had his shirt off and he was trying to egg him on. And he ignored him and he wasn’t scared. And he continued to say to the people that walked by, “God loves you.” He learned how to say, “God loves you,” in about a dozen different languages.

It was amazing to me. People would walk by and he’d say something to them and he’d try and figure out where they were from. And he’d try a few different languages and then they’d light up. He had learned how to say it in Spanish and German and in Dutch and Hawaiian. All these different languages he’d tell people, “God loves you,” because Palm Springs is of course a big tourist town. Well one day I was walking down the street and Brother Harold rode up with his three-wheel bicycle. He had his day-old bakery bread in the back and he stopped to talk to me a little bit and he used to just smile a real big smile when he’d talk about the Lord. He said, “How are you doing, Doug?” And I said, “Well, all right.” And he realized maybe I was struggling spiritually and he said, “How long can you hold your breath?” Oh I liked that question because I think I’ve got extraordinary lungs. And I did a lot of swimming back then and I used to specifically play a game growing up to see how long I could hold my breath. I was so bored with school that I would watch the clock. And I used to play a game in school to see how long I could hold my breath. And I got to where I could hyperventilate and hold my breath for four minutes, while I was smoking. When I quite smoking I went to four minutes, ten seconds.

So I said, “Well I can hold my breath four minutes.” And I thought he was going to go, “Good!” But he said, “You shouldn’t go any longer than that without praying. And then he said, “Doug, how often do you eat?” And I said, “Two, three times a day.” He said, “That’s how often you need to read and meditate on God’s word.” And he said, “What’s going to happen if you don’t get any exercise?” “I guess get weak and flabby.” He said, “That’s what happens to your faith if you don’t witness and you don’t share it. You lose it if you don’t use it.” He said, “You’ve got a physical body with very real needs and they are under certain laws. You also have a spiritual body and your spiritual vigor and health is going to be directly in proportion to your personal devotions, reading your Bible, praying, witnessing on a regular basis.” Why was Daniel so strong spiritually at this point in his life? Because he had a habit, he had a custom, of spending time with God.

Well, sure enough there he was with the window open and he was praying. And we read in verse 11, “Then these men assembled, and they found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. And they went before the king concerning the king’s decree; and they said Haven’t you signed a decree,” as though they didn’t know, “that every man who makes any petition to any God or man within thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? And the king said, Well, yes, I did. The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which does not alter.” That’s the fourth time it tells us so far. “So they answered and said to the king, That Daniel,” can you tell, can you hear the contempt in their voice? “That Daniel.” “That Daniel, who is one of the captives from Judah, he doesn’t show due regard for you, O king, nor the decree that you have signed, but he makes his petition three times a day.” “He doesn’t recognize your authority,” which is the very thing the religious leaders said to Pilate. “He’s got another king. He doesn’t’ recognize Caesar.” “When the king heard these things,” verse 14, “he was greatly displeased with himself.” He thought, “Oh no, why didn’t I see what they were up to? I should have known they’d be jealous. They’re trying to get rid of Daniel.” “Sore displeased with himself, and he set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him.” You know a day ends and begins at sundown even back here. What time of day did Jesus go to the tomb?

About the going down of the sun? Is that right? “Then these men approached the king, and said to the king,” it was time for him to execute the law, “Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and the Persians is That no decree or statute that the king establishes may be changed.” That’s five times. “Cannot be changed,” five times. You know what I think is amazing? There’s at least three examples in the Bible of earthly monarchs that made laws that they wanted to change and they could not change them. King Ahasuerus made a law that all the Jews should be attacked on a certain day. Then he found out that his wife was a Jew. He could not negate the law. He simply gave his seal to Mordecai and Esther, he said, “You make a new law that gives them the right to defend themselves, but I can’t take back my law.” Harrod spoke, said to Salome if she’d dance for him he’d give her anything she asked for up to half his kingdom. He didn’t dream that she’d ask for the head of John the Baptist. But once he spoke he could not go back. He did not want to do it, but his word was law. Now, for me it’s a mystery, friends, I’m bewildered by people who claim to believe the Bible and say they’re Christians who think that God Almighty, who wrote His law in stone with His own finger would then take the Sabbath commandment and say, “It was the wrong day.

I’m changing the day. I’m doing away with it,” or all the different excuses that you come up with. “No law that the king establishes can be changed.” There’s only one law that was written with God’s finger and it cannot be changed. When God blesses something it’s blessed forever. And to me it’s a mystery that they think the God of the universe is wishy-washy and these earthly monarchs would not, these simple earthly kings would not change their law. Is God Almighty less firm than they are? “So the king gave command, and they brought Daniel, and they cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke and said to Daniel, Your God whom you serve from time to time, he will deliver you.” Anyone reading along with me? Does it say, “time to time?” In your translation it does, huh? Mine says, “Your God whom you serve continually.” Is it possible for us to serve God consistently? Is our obedience to be hit and miss, up and down, or can we have a consistent, continual commitment to God? “Your God whom you serve continually, he will deliver you.” Now friends, that’s a promise you can underline. If you serve God continually, He will deliver you.

You believe that? “Then a stone was brought, and laid on the mouth of the den.” Was there a stone placed on the tomb of Christ? “And the king sealed it with his own signet, and the ring of his lords; that the purpose concerning Daniel might not be changed.” Was there a government seal placed on the stone of Christ’s tomb? “Now the king went to his palace, and he spent the night in fasting: and no musicians were brought before him.” You know you wonder what the Father was doing in heaven during that period of time when Christ was in the tomb. They weren’t celebrating up there. It was a time of solemn mourning. “Also his sleep went from him. And the king arose very early in the morning,” what time did Jesus rise? “and he went in haste to the den of lions. And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel: and the king spoke to Daniel and said, Daniel, servant of the living God.” Look at this. He doesn’t even know if Daniel is alive yet, but he still says, “you serve the living God.” “servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” You notice he puts him in he says, “He’ll deliver you.” After 24 hours of thinking about those hungry lions he comes back and says, “Has he delivered you?” He didn’t have as much faith coming back to the den. “Then Daniel said to the king, O king, live for ever.” Calm, composed voice with still respect comes up from the den, “O king, live for ever. My God has sent his angels, and shut the lions’ mouth.”

Now who is the lion? The Bible tells us there in Peter, “Be sober, be vigilant because your adversary goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he might devour.” God can shut the lion’s mouth. You know the devil is the accuser of the brethren. He stands to accuse us before God day and night and God can shut the lion’s mouth. “Because I was found innocent before him; also, O king, I’ve done no wrong before you.” Before God and the government he had not sinned. “Then the king was exceedingly glad for him, and commanded they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken out of the den and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God.” Did Daniel come out alive? Did Jesus come out alive? Was Daniel innocent? Was Jesus innocent? And you know what else it says? “Because he believed in his God.” Why was he saved? Because of his works or because he believed? But did he prove his belief? How did he show his belief? He opened his windows and he opened his mouth and he let his light shine. Some people think that all you have to do is in the day of trouble say, “I believe!” No, that’s how the devil believes.

Believe means to be live in Him. Daniel had a life where he demonstrated he believed in God. Now, some people say at this point, “Well, that wasn’t really a miracle, Doug. The lions probably weren’t hungry.” You know, let’s face it, and really there are some critics of the Bible who have actually said, “The Persian government had just taken over the Babylonian government. They had executed so many Babylonian officials. Those lions were probably lying at the bottom of the den with indigestion, burping, swollen bellies. And they threw Daniel in there and they just groaned and rolled over. It’s no miracle. They just couldn’t eat anymore.” Actually I’ve heard people who’ve thought that was a valid criticism. They weren’t holding a Bible when they said that. Reminds me of the story, you’ve heard it. These hippies converted at a mission in New York City and they gave them a Bible and he go sits on a bench there by Central Park and he starts reading the Bible through. Finally around the time he gets to Exodus he’s getting so excited he’s just on the edge of his seat and he can’t contain himself. He says, “Praise the Lord! This is wonderful.

Thank you, Jesus.” And an atheist there, a businessman, is walking by and he hears him. He says, “Pardon me, I couldn’t help but overhear you’re calling all this religious superlatives. What’s, what are you reading?” And the hippie said, “Oh mister, this is wonderful. I’m reading the Bible. I’ve never read it before and I just read where God parted the Red Sea and the children of Israel went across.” And he said, “Well, you know, that’s not as big a miracle,” the atheist says, “It’s not as big a miracle as you think. That wasn’t really the Red Sea. We’ve discovered it was the Sea of Reeds and it’s only six inches deep.” The hippie didn’t know that. He didn’t want to argue with this man who’s obviously dignified and educated and he said, “Well thank you, I didn’t know that.” And the man started walking away feeling pretty smug and pretty soon he hears the hippie calling over his shoulder, “Praise the Lord! Thank you, Jesus, this is wonderful!” And he marches back, he says, “Now why are you shouting?” Hippie says, “The Lord just drown the whole Egyptian army in six inches of water.” Now some people say the lions weren’t’ hungry. And it says, “The king gave command, and they brought those men who had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, and their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and broke all of their bones in pieces before they could hit the bottom of the den.” You don’t think those ferocious lions were hungry, well you’ve got to keep reading.

If they couldn’t eat one Daniel; someone said the reason they couldn’t eat Daniel is he had too much backbone. And those other men, they got eaten before they hit the bottom of the den. You know I love the way in the Bible God gives reinforcement for His miracles. It’s like people say, “Oh, the fiery furnace wasn’t really hot. You know some people walk on wire, just some hot coals and they walked across it and came back and they said there was a big miracle, made this big deal out of it.” It was hot enough to kill the soldiers that threw them in, right? All these critics of the Bible that try to negate the miracles of God need to keep on reading because the evidence is right there in the story. God gives verification and validation in the Bible stories for the miracles. “Jesus, when He multiplied the loaves and the fishes, you know, He broke in little bitty pieces.” How’d they get 12 baskets of fragments when He was done when they only started with five loaves and two fish? You’ve got to keep reading. The critics of the Bible. And then king makes a decree, verse 25, “And he says to all people, nations, and languages that dwell upon the earth; Peace be multiplied to you.” Now notice what’s happening. Daniel, by living a consistent Christian life, threw his opening his windows and opening his mouth, his example is now being spread to the entire civilized world. One person with a job, who decides to be a Christian in everything they do, who makes his devotional life a priority and his relationship with God supreme. “Peace be multiplied to you.

I make a decree,” now the king’s making another decree, “That in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, his kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall endure to the end. He delivers and rescues, and he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.” God will shut the lion’s mouth for you and God will deliver you from the power of the lion. The Bible tells us that the devil is the one who is like a lion. Psalm 91:13-14, “You will tread upon the lion and the cobra: the young lion and the serpent you trample under foot.” What do you think that’s a reference to? Who’s the serpent? Who is the lion? By you’re living faithfully, by you’re having a devotional life you’re going to have the armaments you need, you’re going to have that sword, you’re going to have the shield, you’ll have what you need to resist the devil, to overcome the lion. The devil could not keep Jesus in the tomb.

Why? Because he believed in God. And the devil cannot hold you down if you have a resolve and a commitment to make him the center of your life. Are you praying regular? I’m not even asking you if you’re praying three times a day. But do you know Him? You know the similar test that came to Daniel is coming to our world, it’s coming to our church. Some of us are being tested every day with little quizzes, you might say, and there’s a big final exam that’s coming. If we’re falling down constantly when these little tests come because we’re not fortifying our minds with the truth of God’s word, what are we going to do when the big tests come? Do you think this was the first time Daniel had been tested on his devotions? No, because he was consistent and he was faithful in that which is least, he was faithful also in much. And if you and I are determined by God’s grace to give Him the priority He deserves in our lives now, if we decide to love Him more now, we will be ready then. Would you like to join me in that commitment, friends? Please turn in your hymnals, 458, More Love to Thee. We need to love Him more, amen? And let’s stand together as we sing More Love to Thee.

Verse 1

Before we sing the third verse I’d like to give you an opportunity to respond to this story. You know the first of the year I typically like to encourage people to revive our personal devotions. I know in our fast-paced living in this age it’s really easy to become so distracted with the cares of life that we forget the priorities to seek first God’s kingdom, to read the scriptures, to pray, to try and be witnesses in our home and where we work. And perhaps there are some of you here who have become preoccupied with the temporary world we live in and you’re forgetting the eternal. If you’d like to say, “Lord, help me to make Christ and my relationship with Him a priority,” would you lift your hands in His presence now? Let’s sing verse three.

Verse 3

You know this story became especially beautiful to me when I realized that it was a picture of Jesus. It’s a little miniature picture of what happened to Christ, how enemies tried to get Him out of the way because of His goodness, How like Daniel we are in a foreign land, ruled by a king that wants the worship that belongs to God. Isn’t that right? And we must pray towards the heavenly Jerusalem where Christ our High Priest intercedes. How Jesus went to the tomb sealed with a government seal late in the afternoon and He rose early in the morning, came out alive to cover our sins. It’s a story of Christ and a story of the ultimate victory of God’s kingdom over the lion. There may be some here today who are lacking the confidence that their sins are under the blood of the lamb. As we sing the last verse if you’d like to come and say, “Lord, I’d like to consecrate myself. I want to dare to be a Daniel and to take a stand for Christ,” come as we sing verse four we’d like to pray with you.

Verse 4.

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The Power of a Positive No! by Joe Crews

The Power of a Positive No! by Joe Crews
God's Promises




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