Without Risk there is no Reward (Part 3)

Daniel 6:10-23

10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”

The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”

13 Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” 14 When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.

15 Then the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, “Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.”

16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”

17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.

19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”

21 Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”

23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

Well it is time to bring this series to a close.  We have spent some time getting to know these four Hebrew boys by the names of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  In week one I shared with you that these four Hebrew boys risked their diet and received the reward of being promoted in a foreign land, and these rewards were structured, prepared them to serve, and surpassed their expectations.  Last week we just talked about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and I told you the story of the fiery furnace and how they risked death for what they believed in and reaped the rewards of God showing up, God showing out, and God showing who He is.  And this week we are going to focus on Daniel and how he risked his deliverance for what he believed in.  

He risked his deliverance for what he valued.  

He risked his deliverance for what he felt was of the utmost importance to him… prayer!

Shall we look at the text, there is a new king in Babylon and his name is Darius…

*Just like the astrologers and enchanters could not wait to tell on Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  The presidents and princes could not wait to tell on Daniel.

*But isn’t it funny that the three Hebrew boys were condemned for not bowing down, and Daniel was condemned for bowing down.  The difference being that the three Hebrew boys refused to bow down to a false God and Daniel refused not to bow down to the only God!

*Then King Darius made a decree…

Now what I love about this story is the fact that Daniel risked his deliverance for prayer.  After he heard this decree, he prayed in his house, in a room with the windows opened facing Jerusalem where everyone and anyone could see him and prayed three times a day!  He did not do it to be seen.  He did it because he did not care who saw him.  There is a big difference there…. All that mattered to Daniel was that he prayed to his God three times a day.  

And we don’t even want to pray before we eat. 

We don’t want to pray before we go to sleep.

We don’t want to pray when we wake up.

We don’t want to pray during the day.

We don’t want to pray when things are going good.

And we definitely don’t want to pray when things are going bad.

We don’t want to pray for our family .

We don’t want to pray for our friends.

We don’t pray for our community. 

We don’t pray for our government.

We don’t pray for our leaders.

We don’t pray for our enemies.

We don’t pray for those less fortunate than us.

But if we would just grasp this concept of prayer the sky is the limit to our relationship with God.

If we are ever going to move forward we must do so on our knees.

Prayer does three things for us.

Prayer keeps us corrected by God.

Prayer keeps us connected to God.

Prayer keeps us concerned about the things of God.

That is why it was so important that Daniel continued to pray.  And he risked his deliverance to pray.  

I mean he could have just prayed in private.  

Went out into the woods, or in a closet, or in a cave, or in a stable, but no way, no how. Daniel did what he always did and went into his room with the windows opened towards Jerusalem and prayed three times a day.  He risked it all to pray.  And because he made this risk he was rewarded for it.  He was in a lions den for hours and not one lion laid a paw on him.  When the king came to check on him the next morning he said my God has sent his angel, and hath closed the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me.  I was innocent before God and I am innocent before you.  I have even seen artist interpret this story with Daniel actually lying with the lions as if they were the best of friends.  So just like Daniel when we risk our deliverance the following three things will happen.

God will save us, just like God sent his angels to close the mouths of the lions he saves us from a life of sin and death. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift us God is eternal life.  I haven’t quoted it in a while so in case you forgot, for God so loved the world…  He sent his son the save us, and because he saves us he does the following three things.

God shields us.  When he saves us we become his children. We are adopted into the kingdom of God and he shields us.  God protects his children.  He covers his children.  How many times have you scene examples or experienced it yourself?   When danger or harm was upon your children and you covered them or shielded them from harm.  Either you wrapped them in your arms, placed them behind you, or laid on top of them in order to shield them from all harm and danger.  If we can do this as frail human beings.  How much more can God cover his children?

Not only does God shield us, God sharpen us.  When a knife is dull it needs to be sharpened so it can be used the way that it is intended to be used.  Have you ever tried to use a dull knife to cut a tomato?  It’s not as easy as it seems.  (Cutco) The sharper the knife the easier the cut.  And it is the same thing with us.  

Life dulls us.  

Situations dull us. 

Circumstances dull us. 

Sickness dulls is.  

Drama dulls us.  

Church folks dull us. 

Coworkers dull us.  

Friends dull us.  

Family dulls is.  

And every now and then we need God to sharpen  us.  That is why Daniel prayed three times a day.  He needed to be sharpened.  That is why we need to stay in consistent communication with God so that we can be sharpened.  That is why we have to get into his word so that we can be sharpened.  God sharpens us!

God shields us.  God sharpens us.  Then God shepherd us.  He leads us and guides us the way that he wants us to go.   He leads us in the path of righteousness for His names sake.

The problem is that we don’t want to follow his lead. 

The problem is that we want to do what we want to do.  

The problem is we want to be the shepherd.  

But sheep can’t shepherd.  

Sheep can’t lead.  

Sheep have to follow.  

Know your role and let God shepherd you.  

Let God lead you!

Daniel would not have achieved or accomplished all that he did if he had not let God shepherd him.

God shepherds us.

So first God will saves us and then God will set us.  He will put us in our proper place.  In the perfect will of God.  I don’t know about you but I need to be in the perfect will of God.  And I’ve told the story and why I believe that being the interim pastor at the first church of God in Washington Court House was the perfect will of God for my life.  Because if I was not their interim pastor I would not have been prepared to become your pastor.  How do you think that Daniel was elevated so high in a foreign land?  He was in the will of God.  He was in his proper place.  And God set him.  And when God sets you he does these three things.

God sheds his light.  He gives you insight into the things of God.  He opens your mind to the limitless possibilities of life with God.  He enlightens you.  Has God ever opened his word to you?  A verse, a chapter, or a book.  Or he sheds his light in a certain situation or circumstance.   He sheds his light!

God sheds his light and God shares his love.  He just doesn’t say that he loves us he shows us that he loves us!  And I’ve told you this many times before, you can say that you love somebody all you want, but they will never really know that you do until you show them.  And I know someone is thinking how does God show me he loves me?  

He woke you up this morning.

You have air in your lungs.

You can blink your eyes.

You have use of your limbs.

You have clean water to drink.

You have clothes on your back.

You have food in your belly.

Do I need to go on?  God shares his love.

He blesses you.

He saved you.

He delivered you.

He healed you.

He got you through.

He made a way.

Do I need to go on?  God shares his love.

He brought you from a mighty long way.

He took you and made something beautiful out of your life.

He picked you up.

He turned you around.

He placed your feet on higher ground.

Do I need to go on?  God shares his love.

God sheds his light, God shares his love, and God shreds our enemies.  After Daniel was removed from the lions den the king brought those men which had accused Daniel and cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives.  And the lions overpowered them and crushed all of their bones.  They were shredded! Is anybody excited about the fact that the battle is not yours it belongs to the lord.  He will take care of your enemies….  Have you ever seen what happens to the enemies of God?

Numbers 24:8 God brought him forth out of Egypt, he hath the strength of a unicorn, he shall eat up the nations of his enemies, and shall break their bones and pierce them with his arrows.

Deuteronomy 20:14 … and  thou shall eat the split of thine enemies which the Lord thy God hath given thee.

2 Kings 2 17:39 but the Lord your God ye shall fear, and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.

Psalm 3:7 arise, O Lord; save me, O my God for thou has smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone, thou has broken the teeth of the ungodly.

God shreds our enemies, because our enemies are His enemies.

First God will save us.  Then God will set us.  And thirdly, God will surprise us.  He gives us more than we deserve, or better yet not giving us exactly what we deserve, and that really surprises us.  

Instead he gives us more than we ask for. 

More than we dare to dream. 

More than we can even imagine.  

He surprises us with his grace and with his mercy!  

Think about that for a momen.

Did you ever expect to be in church?

To be saved.

To be healed.

To be delivered.

To be free.

To be sober.

To be faithful.

To be used by God.

God surprises us, and he does so in three ways…

God shakes us.  He gets our attention.  Has God ever gotten your attention before.  You were in a situation or circumstance that literally shook you to your core.  And God was like do I have your attention now.  

The time you almost died in the car accident, you survived, but the car did not.

The time you almost got caught doing what you should not have been doing.

The time when you drank too much or smoked too much or indulged too much and it scared you or shook you.

I am sure that Daniel was a bit shaken when he entered that lions den and seen all of those ferocious beasts, but then he remembered his God.  The one whom he prayed to three times a day.  The one that elevated him in a foreign land.  The one that delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego out of the fiery furnace.

Every now and then God will shake us to get our attention.

So God shakes us.  Then God shines his light through us.  Think of the testimony that Daniel had.  He was able to show the world that if you have faith.  If you believe.  If you pray.  God will deliver you.  And it had a tremendous impact on everyone around him.  Bishop Clarke preached about this a few years ago.  He had been preaching about becoming a better you and one of the ways to do that is to let your light shine. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.  But in order to do this you have to be willing to allow yourself to be humbled so that it is God’s light shining and not yours.  That people are not so impressed with you, but with the God in you.  God shines his light through us.

God shakes us.  God shines his light through us.  Last but not least, God showcases his power.  Not only did God send an angel to close the mouths of the lions, but he caused the king to make a decree that every Dominion of his kingdom tremble and fear the God of Daniel for he is the living God, and steadfast forever. And his kingdom which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.  He deliverers and rescues them, and he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.  And Daniel prospered through the reign of three kings in a foreign land, Nebuchadnezzar, Darius, and Cyrus the Persian, and none of these kings were believers, but God used them to show case his power.  

This is an excerpt from an article entitled, a call for Christian Risk by John Piper.

Christ calls us to take risks for kingdom purposes. Almost every message of American consumerism says the opposite: Maximize comfort and security – now, not in heaven. Christ does not join that chorus. To every timid saint, wavering on the edge of some dangerous gospel venture, he says, “Fear not, you can only be killed” (Luke 12:4). Yes, by all means maximize your joy! How? For the sake of love, risk being reviled and persecuted and lied about, “for your reward is great in heaven” (Matthew 5:11-12).

There is a great biblical legacy of loving risk-takers. Joab, facing the Syrians on one side and the Ammonites on the other, said to his brother Abishai, “Let us be courageous for our people . . . and may the LORD do what seems good to him” (2 Samuel 10:12). Esther broke the royal law to save her people and said, “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). Shadrach and his comrades refused to bow down to the king’s idol and said, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us . . . But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods” (Daniel 3:16-18). And when the Holy Spirit told Paul that in every city imprisonment and afflictions await him, he said, “I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course” (Acts 20:24).

“Every Christian,” said Stephen Neil about the early church, “knew that sooner or later he might have to testify to his faith at the cost of his life” (A History of Christian Missions, Penguin, 1964, p. 43). This was normal. To become a Christian was to risk your life. Tens of thousands did it. Why? Because to do it was to gain Christ, and not to was to lose your soul. “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).

In America and around the world the price of being a real Christian is rising. Things are getting back to normal in “this present evil age.” Increasingly 2 Timothy 3:12 will make sense: “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Those who’ve made gospel-risk a voluntary life-style will be most ready when we have no choice. Therefore I urge you, in the words of the early church, “Let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:13-14).

So we can risk our diet here.

We can risk death here. 

We can risk deliverance here.

We can risk being talked about here.

We can risk being hated on here.

We can risk failure here.

We can risk kindness here.

We can risk helping someone here.

We can risk love here.

We can risk sharing the gospel here.

We can risk being vulnerable here.

For here we have no lasting city.

We risk it all for the city that is to come.

We risk it all to walk through the pearly gates.

We risk it all to tread the streets of gold.

We risk it all to sing with the hallelujah chorus.

We risk it all to receive our crown.

We risk it all to tell the story of how we made it over.

We risk it all to hear him say well done good and faithful servant.

We risk it all to say some glad morning when this life is over.

We risk it all to say to a home on God’s celestial shore.

We risk it all to say when the shadows of this life our gone.

We risk it all to say like a bird from prison bars has flown.

We risk it all to say just a few more weary days and then.

We risk it all to say to a land where joy shall never end.

We risk it all to say I’ll fly away oh glory I’ll fly away.  When I die hallelujah bye and bye I’ll fly away.

We risk it all to say praise the Lord, I’m heaven bound.

We risk it all to be in his presence.

Because our true reward is to see him face to face.

Whom you ask do we want to see face to face?

The king of kings.

The Lord of lords. 

The alpha and the omega.

The beginning and the end.

The author and finisher of our faith.

The creator of heaven and earth.

The bright and morning star.,

The lily of the valley.

The balm of Gilead.

The high and lofty one.

The great I am that I am.

We get to see Jesus, the savior of the world.

Jesus the friend that sticks closer than a brother.

Jesus the lamb that was slain.

Jesus, the son of the living God.

That at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!

Is there anybody in the room willing to risk it all to see Jesus?

Is there anybody here that wants to be like Daniel?

is there anybody here that wants to be like those three Hebrew boys?

Better yet, is there anybody her that wants to be like Jesus?

Without risk there is no reward.

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