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I Dare You: Be Steadfast! - Part A

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January 24, 2023 5:00 am

I Dare You: Be Steadfast! - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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January 24, 2023 5:00 am

Daniel faced the trial of a lifetime in the lions' den. But he was willing to sacrifice life and limb because his heart was steadfast toward his God. In the message "I Dare You: Be Steadfast!" Skip shares how you can take your faith to the next level.

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Now if you are a steadfast believer, you can count on four things that we see in the rest of this chapter. Before we get into those four things, can I just say that life is not fair?

Life doesn't always turn out as you expect and often doesn't seem fair, even when you do what's right. So today on Connect with Skip Heitig, Skip encourages you with some things to expect when you are a steadfast Christian. Then at the end of today's program, Skip and his wife Lenya share how they've seen God work when they've remained steadfast.

And I find a great deal of comfort that I know that the Lord knows and when I know that He knows, if He's anticipated it and He's made promises regardless of what I'm going through, then it gives me a sense of confidence that if He knows then He's going to provide what I need at this moment. Now here's a pair of resources that can help you get the most out of your time in God's Word. So it's another new year and you've resolved to study through the entire Bible again. Very often somewhere around 2 Chronicles, that wonderful goal can grind to a halt.

Well this year can be different. We have a package of resources with an excellent strategy for successfully studying through all 66 books this year. It includes Skip Heitig's book, The Bible from 30,000 Feet, which lifts you to a new biblical altitude to help you get a new view of the full counsel of God's Word.

Make 2023 the year you truly make it through a solid survey of the entire scope of Scripture. This package also includes Skip's super accessible book, How to Study the Bible and Enjoy It, along with The Bible from 30,000 Feet. Both are our thanks when you give $50 or more today to help reach more people through Connect with Skip Heitig. Skip has asked the team at Connection Communications to make it a priority in 2023 to take daily messages as you've heard today and expand them into more metropolitan areas. It is obvious that the population centers of our nation are in deep need of hearing the truth and that is exactly our plan for the future with Skip's teachings. Will you help us make that happen? Call 800-922-1888 or give online securely at slash offer.

That's slash offer. Okay, we're in Daniel chapter six as we join Skip for today's program. When Christopher Columbus announced his desire to explore new worlds and to discover a quicker route to the West Indies, all the experts of Spain said it was impossible. But because of Columbus's steadfast persistence, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel sided with Columbus, not the experts, and that's a good thing for us. Henry Ford believed in the automobile. He pursued that dream, but he had a good friend named Thomas Edison who said it wasn't a very good idea. In fact, offered Henry Ford a job to come work for him to get a real life. Ford was steadfast, persistent in his dream. It's a good thing he was. The Wright brothers, Wilbur and Orville, believed that man could actually fly in the sky, but they had friends, they knew journalists, and they had a father.

Their own dad said it was a costly and insane waste of money. They pursued their vision and their dream because they were steadfast. Steadfastness is a level above faithfulness. Daniel was a faithful man.

We saw that last week even in chapter 6. But steadfastness is when you are faithful in extreme times. The idea of being steadfast evokes thoughts of strength, intensity. To be steadfast is to grab a hold of, in fact to even clutch, the promises of God.

One author that I've read a lot, William Barclay, writes these words. So often we have a kind of vague, wistful longing that the promises of Jesus should be true. The only way to enter into them is to believe in them with the clutching intensity of a drowning man. Keep those words in mind as we read chapter 6 because we see Daniel facing his possible death believing, trusting, grabbing a hold of God's promises like this, the clutching intensity of a drowning man.

Now if you are a steadfast believer, you can count on four things that we see in the rest of this chapter. Before we get into those four things, can I just say that life is not fair? That bothers some of us.

It bothers some people, especially kids. Kids grow up and they say, that's not fair. And you say, life isn't fair. But some people never grow out of this idea that life should be fair. That if you do good things, the good things will happen. That if you do bad things, that you always have consequences. Sort of this cosmic karma that should happen. But that's not real life. Life isn't fair.

Now God will eventually bring fairness and equity, not immediately, but eventually. I heard about two men. They were in a waiting room. Both of them were expectant fathers and their wives were in there having babies. And the nurse came out and said to one of them, congratulations, you have a brand new baby daughter. The other guy stood up and he said, that ain't fair.

I was here first. Yeah, but she delivered first. What happens to Daniel isn't fair. In fact, he doesn't get delivered from the experience of the lion's den.

He has to go through the experience of the lion's den and he's helped while he's in it. Remember what David wrote, yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. We don't like that. We don't want the valley of the shadow of death. We want to be airlifted from mountain peak to mountain peak and forget the valleys. And that's not fair.

We want to be airlifted from mountain peak to mountain peak and forget the valleys. But the Christian life as you go through it, even when you're steadfast, and I would say, especially if you're steadfast. Now, if you are a steadfast believer, I mentioned there are four things that you can count on. Persecution is inevitable. Trust is essential. Deliverance is possible.

And influence is unmistakable. Those are the four divisions of the rest of the chapter that we will look at in our text this morning. So what I'd like you to do, even though we left off in verse 15 and 16 really picks up the rest of the story, I want to draw your attention back a few verses and get the whole thing framed nicely as we move into it.

Number one, persecution is inevitable. Look at verse 5 of Daniel 6. Then these men, those would be his envious colleagues, if you remember, said, we shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.

And so they went with that thought to the king to get a decree signed that nobody could worship any god or anything for 30 days except the king. Verse 10, so 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 he prayed, and he gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. Then these men assembled and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. Now it would seem that this story took place in one day, that in the morning they brought the decree for the king to sign it, at noon they were already at Daniel's house watching him pray because that was the time that he did it, and then by afternoon they had his death sentence signed again, and that he was put in the lion's den by evening. It was a Persian custom that a death or an execution should be carried out before nightfall, so this probably all happened in the course of a single day.

They knew that Daniel was devoted to God, and they knew that his love for God would always be paramount, so they exploited that situation in order to get Daniel killed. Persecution is inevitable. You and I are not going to get through this life without some battle scars.

There's going to be some wounds. There's going to be some persecution, and here's why. You're a part of the kingdom of light. Out there is the kingdom of darkness of which you used to be a part of. When the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness come into contact, there is a kingdom clash.

There are fireworks. Paul put it this way. Anyone who desires to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution because if you're steadfast, then others are going to know that you're a Christian, and if others know that you're a Christian, not everybody's going to like the fact that you're a Christian. In fact, they'll talk behind your back. They'll marginalize you. You might not make it up the scale in the corporation or worse. Over the many years while I've been a pastor of this church, I have gotten numerous death threats.

I got some recently by email and even by phone. We're going to come. We're going to kill you. Several years ago, and I want to underline that so you just don't get worried, but a man came in here, pulled out a gun. He was in the foyer. He said, I'm going to kill that pastor. I don't know what I said that bothered him, but he was a little bit drunk.

Our usher, the presence of mine, he was a big quarterback guy, just jumped on the guy and lovingly escorted him outside to the police. Made for a great sermon illustration back then. But there is a misconception that following Jesus Christ is going to make life easier.

Really? Ever read the New Testament? The early church had it anything except easy. We love the promises of Jesus. In fact, some people make whole cottage industries of little promises that Jesus said, and they hold onto that promise for the day, but there are some promises that they just sort of leave out. Let me give you a few of those promises that Jesus made to his disciples. I'm reading, you don't have to turn there, Matthew chapter 10, verse 16. Jesus said to his followers, behold, I send you out like sheep in the midst of wolves. Whoa, whoa, stop right there.

That's not an easy gig. Little sheep getting sent to a pack of wolves. Therefore, Jesus said, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Every now and then somebody will say, wouldn't it be great to live in the time of the apostles? I say, sort of. Parts of it would be cool.

A whole lot of other parts would not be so cool. This being one of them. Behold, I send you out like sheep in the midst of wolves. So Jesus in this section announces this to them, and then he tells them they can expect persecution from three sources. Number one, the religious establishment. The religious establishment. Jesus said, beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. Did you know that organized religion has been one of the chief antagonists against the gospel?

Always has been, still is today. We send our missionaries out to different parts of the world. They will tell us, it's not the common people, it's not the towns folks, it's not the country folks that give us the opposition. It's religious organizations that are opposed to our evangelistic work. Who were Jesus' enemies? Let's see, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, religious people. Even Daniel's antagonists in this chapter had a religious bent, forbidding the worship of any god so that you'll be persecuted by the religious establishment.

Let me take this a step further. You're even going to be persecuted by carnal Christians in your own Bible study groups and churches. Carnal Christians who see your newfound devotion for Jesus, they're seeing that you have a desire to take the dare, to step up, to be steadfast, to pray more, to carry your Bible, and they might say something to you like, and they might say something to you like, oh, look who got so spiritual all of a sudden.

You know why they say that? Because they're convicted by your commitment. And they might say, well, I'm a Christian too, I'm just not a fanatic. Somebody once said a fanatic is just somebody who loves Jesus more than you do. Number two, Jesus continued, you'll be persecuted by the secular world. He continues, you will be brought before governors and kings and the Gentiles. You see, a steadfast believer is sort of like a 500 watt light bulb in a pitch black room.

And though it dispels the darkness, it also irritates people. And it irritated the Roman government when the apostles were those bright lights. And just like Jesus predicted, you know what happened to them? They were flung to the lions. They were burned at the stake. They were sewn into the skins of animals so that beasts could tear them apart.

Molten lead was poured over the tenderest parts of their bodies. Caesar Nero even wrapped them up in pitch and put them on poles so that they could be torches in his gardens at night. But then Jesus takes it a step further in his catalog of promises to them. He said you'll be persecuted by your own family. Jesus said these words, for brother will deliver a brother to death and a father his own child and children will rise against their parents to kill them. Did you know that there are still some cultures today where if a person converts to Christianity, a funeral is held for that family member? And they say he's dead to us. He's dead. He's following Jesus now.

Don't even mention his name. Other cultures are more radical and they believe in honor killings. This person converted to Jesus.

We need to honor our God by killing him. Now you haven't had those kind of things probably, but you have had the persecution, many of you, by your own family members. Have you discovered that to witness to your own family members is like that's harder than witnessing to anybody else?

They look at you and go, who are you trying to kid, dude? We grew up with you. We know you.

You're onto some little kick now, but whatever. These are the promises of Jesus. Persecution is inevitable. Back to Daniel chapter 6.

Persecution is inevitable, therefore trust is essential. Now watch this. Daniel 6 verse 16, so the king gave the command and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions.

Just sort of a straightforward statement. So they brought Daniel and threw him into the lion's den. It was actually a pit.

I've been to Babylon and the archeologist showed me a square hole on the pavement where I was standing and underneath was a large cavern. In those days it would have been divided into two where the lions were on one side, a lot of them, and then the hors d'oeuvres, Daniel in this case, would be on the other side. The lions would then be let loose. So the king gave the command and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions, but the king spoke saying to Daniel, now listen to the pagan king speak, your God whom you serve continually, he will deliver you.

What? Why did this king say that? Well, this king has been on the throne of Babylon now for a year at least, perhaps even two years by now. Daniel is old, as we know he's not afraid of anybody, and he's in the king's council.

He's on the cabinet of the king. So this king has heard message after message after message about what happened to Daniel by Daniel. He heard what happened with Nebuchadnezzar, what happened with Belshazzar. It was well recorded in their own history books by that time. And Daniel has been steadfast before this king.

Your God whom you serve continually, he will deliver you. Then a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring, and with the signets of his lords that the purpose concerning Daniel might not be changed. Now the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting, and no musicians were brought before him, and also his sleep went from him. In this whole episode, do you once read of Daniel saying, this isn't fair!

God, I've served you 70 years! No, in fact, we don't have recorded that Daniel said anything at all, at all. Daniel opens the windows.

He prays. That was his custom. He definitely knew that the thing had been signed. He definitely knew that death could happen. He definitely knew what a den of lions was, but he opened up the windows and he prayed because he always prayed.

And then the death sentence is passed. Daniel's taken and placed in the lion's den. He says nothing.

No, he may have said something, but the text is silent. It's like Jesus, he opened not his mouth, but he was silent before his antagonist, and he is lowered into the den of lions. Daniel's story reminds me of another story that some of you may have heard about, a guy by the name of Pauli Karp, who in 156 AD, he was a Christian leader in Smyrna, a Christian bishop. Pauli Karp was brought to be burned at the stake. They brought him to the stake. They tied him up. They lit the fire, and then the executioner said, listen, Pauli Karp, you can get out of this real easy. Just deny Jesus very quickly. We'll let you go. You'll have your freedom.

Not yelling, not screaming, I hate flames. Pauli Karp said, I have served Jesus Christ for 86 years. He was 86 years old, like Daniel. I've served Jesus Christ for 86 years. Never once has he denied me. He's never done me any wrong.

How can I deny him now? And Pauli Karp looked down at those flames as the will of God for his life. And I believe Daniel saw the lion's den, and he didn't squawk and didn't say, I hate teeth and lions and no, though he wouldn't have loved it. But he knew his God well enough, and he was steadfast enough to know and believe, OK, this is it.

I've lived 86 years. Now it's the lion's den. I had to go one way or the other. And they lowered him into the pit. Now, it's easy to talk about this, but this is where steadfastness has got to kick in.

This is where the clutching intensity of a drowning man has to kick in. This is where your faith needs to move from faithfulness to steadfastness. Here's a good prayer to remember. Psalm 51, David prayed, created me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. The Hebrew word means to be fixed or fastened, immovable, steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 112 speaks of a good man, a godly man. And in describing him, it says, he will not be afraid of evil tidings. His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.

I have a question for you. What will it take to move you? What will it take to move you?

What would it take? What could possibly happen in your life to have you stop trusting Jesus Christ? Death of a child? Lingering disease?

Loss of employment? Is there something that you have said, ah, I trust the Lord, but as long as this, this, and that happen, if something else happens, I can't. I can't follow a God like that. I can't trust a God like that.

Really? I remember having a conversation with a young lady some years ago. Ashley took me by surprise, because she said, well, you know, I believed in Jesus, past tense. I followed Jesus.

I trusted Jesus. And then she said, but then my grandmother died. And that was it. I said, well, with all due respect, I'm very sorry for your loss.

It is very painful. But did you really think she was never going to die? Because that's never happened before in history. So that was it. It was your grandmother's death. It is sort of, you lost it at that point. I'm not following Jesus anymore.

Really? Job lost his estate, all 10 of his children, and his health. And he said, the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. And then as the vote goes, on and the situation gets worse, he says, though he slay me, I will trust him.

He can kill me. I'm not going to be moved. That's steadfastness. That's Skip Hyten with a message from the series, I Dare You. Find the full message, as well as books, booklets, and full teaching series at Now let's head into the studio with Skip and Lenya as they share how they can help you find God's work when they've remained steadfast. Skip, today you reminded us that persecution is inevitable. As counterintuitive as it may be, how can knowing we will be persecuted actually give us hope and encouragement? Well, I love the fact that Jesus promised that that would happen. And he told his disciples, I'm telling you these things in advance so that when they happen, it won't catch you off guard.

You won't be the only one who's going to be surprised by it. And I find a great deal of comfort that I know that the Lord knows. And when I know that he knows, if he's anticipated it and he's made promises regardless of what I'm going through, then it gives me a sense of confidence that if he knows, then he's going to provide what I need at this moment and to tap into that.

So I find God's prophetic omniscience very comforting, because he didn't just say, this is going to happen, you know, suck it up and do it. He promises his provision. He promises his spirit. I will never leave you. I will never forsake you. If I leave, I'm going to send my Holy Spirit.

This is what he's going to do. He's going to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. So know that no matter how the world is treating you, you don't know what's going on in that unbeliever's mind, even if it's going on in that unbeliever's mind, even as he or she is leveling accusations your way, God might be dealing with them. I've had people come back to me afterwards and say, the Lord really used that conversation to get a hold of my heart.

And that could plant a seed. Thanks, Skip and Lenya. We hope you've enjoyed getting to know Skip and Lenya a little better through this conversation. You can join them in connecting others with the life-changing gospel with a gift today to keep these Bible teachings going strong on the radio, on television, and online. And when you support this ministry, you not only do the same for others, but you keep these teachings you love available to you as well. Just call 800-922-1888 to give a gift today. That's 800-922-1888 or visit slash donate. That's slash donate. Thank you. Tune in tomorrow to hear Skip share encouraging words for believers who wish to remain steadfast in extreme trials. Connect with Skip Hyton is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-24 19:42:52 / 2023-01-24 19:52:33 / 10

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