featured graphic for Pastor Mike McKay and his wife Kristi of Neighborhood Church during COVID-19

Weekly message from Neighborhood Church: Looking to God in a den of lions

Psalms 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

The story of Daniel and his friends is an amazing story in the Bible (Read sometime Daniel 1:1-21 to get the basis of the story, but do read on in Daniel). Daniel and his friends 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 the quality of life. Well, in Daniel Chapter 6, Daniel had risen to a very prominent position; he was about 80 years old. Daniel was slated to be second only to the king. Now, all the while Daniel had 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, Daniel was not a home-grown Babylonian and those who were true citizens were upset with a ‘foreigner’ holding such a high position. So, some 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.

As the narrative goes, these 120 men had the king make an irrevocable law that people could not pray to any God but the king for 30 days. The punishment for breaking this law was to be thrown into the lion’s den. However, Daniel, knowing the law and the punishment, continued with 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.

We are not told what happened as Daniel was lowered into the pit, but I know Daniel was looking to God in a den of lions. Daniel had a deep devoted faith in our awesome God!

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.

Mark 10:27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

Psalms 93:1 The LORD reigns; He is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed; He has put on strength as His belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.

Jeremiah 32:17 Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

Life can be like a den of lions as we face the hardships and issues of life. COVID and all the restrictions have been an everyday reality that can captivate our attention and fill us with fear, so can relationship issues, financial issues, political issues, other health issues, family issues, work issues, and school issues. These ‘lions’ can ripple fear through us and take over our outlook and influence our decisions. What helps is to be like Daniel and keep looking to God, to be devoted like Daniel who continued to connect with God. We connect with God through time reading and studying the Bible 2 Timothy 3:16-17. As well, it is spending time in prayer Philippians 4:6-7. Also, we connect with God as we serve and do the good works God has created us do Ephesians 2:10, like caring for our neighbors, helping out our community and supporting the ministries at church. Let’s look to God in a den of lions.

Church can be a place to inspire us and help us connect with God. If you don’t already have a church you regularly attend, we would like to invite you to view or visit Neighborhood Church. We have a 9am live-stream gathering from our Cypress campus and another pre-recorded gathering at our Los Alamitos campus. In addition, both of these locations and times are now open for in-door, in-person gatherings. There is also an in-door, in-person gathering at the Cypress campus at 10:30am. Our webpage has information on how to connect with us or you can find us online at neighborhoodchurch.com. As well, if you would like to view any of our past worship gatherings or videos, visit our YouTube channel, or just search Neighborhood Church Cypress or Neighborhood Church Los Alamitos on their YouTube site.

Looking to God in the midst of lions along with you,
Mike