Weekly message from Cypress Church: Facing lions

2 Timothy 1:7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
 
I’m reading the Bible book of Daniel. It’s the story of Daniel and his three friends who were taken into exile as ancient Israel was captured by the powerful kingdom of Babylon. As was the custom in that day, when a conquering army took over another nation, they enfolded the best and brightest into leadership. Daniel and his friends were amazing young men: smart, good looking, adaptable, quick learners, and resourceful. They quickly rose to high levels of responsibility, using their knowledge and wisdom to make their new kingdom flourish. The king loved them for all they did to improve the kingdom’s economy, infrastructure, commerce, and most likely quality of life. Well, in Daniel Chapter 6, Daniel has risen to such a prominent position, he is slated to be second only to the king. Now all the while Daniel has not wavered in his faith. He prayed and worshiped the God of Israel (the God of the Bible) and sought to live life God’s way.
 
However, he was not a home grown Babylonian and those who were true citizens were upset with a ‘foreigner’ holding such a high position. So, these 120 people sought to find some fault to discredit him but could not! That alone is incredible. If 120 people followed you around for a few days, could they find something to dishonor or shame you in some way? Yes, we are all called to live a life of integrity.
 
Proverbs 10:9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.
 
So, these men had the king make an irrevocable law that people could not pray to any God but the king for 30 days. The punishment was to be thrown in the lion’s den. However, Daniel, knowing the law and the punishment, did his normal daily routine and prayed. These 120 were waiting and brought Daniel before the king. The king loved Daniel and tried to spare him in some way, but could not and Daniel was lowered to his death, or that is what the 120 hoped. Now, you can read the rest of the story, it is amazing. But what I want to focus on is how was Daniel able to face the lions?
 
One possibility is Daniel knew God. Daniel did not know if he would become the lions’ next meal, but he did know of an all-powerful God who can do anything.
 
2 Samuel 22:33 This God is my strong refuge and has made my way blameless.
1 Chronicles 29:11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.
Psalm 62:11-12 Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. For you will render to a man according to his work.
 
He also knew that God’s way was best, even if it means he would suffer.
 
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Proverbs 3:5-8 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
 
One of my favorite pictures is that of Daniel, an older gentleman standing in a lion’s den, facing up, looking to God. Daniel is calm and the lions are not touching him. Daniel could remain calm because his focus was on a more powerful God.
 
I am not sure what lions you will face in 2020, but it is more likely than not. Not that I would wish trouble on anyone, but Jesus was clear in John 16:33, we all will face tribulation, trouble, lions. Faith in an Almighty God will help. Now, there is no guarantee we will experience a Daniel-type miracle, but there will be peace. Maybe a great goal for 2020 is to gain a greater view of how awesome, incredible, and magnificent God really is.
 
Reading the Bible is key and attending church can help. If you don’t have a church you regularly attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or one of our branch churches. Every Sunday we learn from the Bible and seek to know God more. We would love for you to join us. Our website has more information: http://www.cypresschurch.net. You can even attend one of our live-streaming services (see http://live.cypresschurch.net/).