Hey everybody, you're listening to A New Beginning, which is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners.
If this program has impacted you, I'd love to hear from you. So just send an email to me at greg.harvest.org. Again, it's greg.harvest.org.
You can learn more about becoming a Harvest Partner by going to harvest.org. As believers, we want to walk the walk, live for Christ. Pastor Greg Laurie says we can also overreact. I think sometimes we may think I need to get away from all non-believers.
I want to only hang out with Christians and then I'll go to church and be with more Christians. But the reality is sometimes when we're out there in culture, we can make an impact. And often the most unfavorable circumstances are the most favorable for spiritual growth and becoming more like Jesus. Remember the Sunday School song, Dare to Be a Daniel? Daniel was a prophet of God and a man who lived a godly life in the midst of an ungodly culture.
Did he cloister himself away in monastic secrecy? No, he lived boldly, even risking his very life to do so. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie says dare to be a Daniel. Our culture doesn't revere those who are committed to their faith.
But we're not living to please culture. We're living to serve our Savior. Daniel was a man of prayer.
He would open the windows of his house every day and get down on his knees three times a day and pray to the Lord. And because of that he was sown into a den of hungry lions. The story is so familiar we can almost dismiss it as a fable of some kind.
But this is a real story that actually took place. So let's kind of get the historical backdrop. A Babylon has fallen. The prophet has appeared before King Belshazzar and told him his days are numbered.
And they were. Right outside of the gates of the city were the Medo-Persian forces led by Cyrus. And they came and conquered Babylon and Belshazzar. The wicked disobedient king died that night.
Well Darius is now put in charge of this new Persian kingdom. And Daniel immediately comes on his radar screen because Daniel stood out from other people. That is because he had integrity. He had honesty. And he heard about how bold Daniel was. Daniel brought the heat and he brought the message to Nebuchadnezzar which resulted in Nebuchadnezzar's conversion.
He also brought it to Nebuchadnezzar's grandson Belshazzar. So he thought this is a man I can respect. This is a man who will tell me the truth.
I don't believe in his God but I can see he has personal integrity. So Daniel at this point well he is a seasoned saint. Not quite ready for retirement.
He is around 80 years old. So our story begins as the king, the new king now Darius wants to make Daniel second in command. He wants to elevate him over his other advisors. That would make Daniel the most powerful man in the kingdom next to the king himself. And why was he put in that position?
Because of his hard work, his excellence, his integrity. And Christians should always do the best work. We should be the best at whatever we do. We need Christians in the senate. We need Christians in congress. We need Christians in the White House. We need Christians at the Waffle House.
We need Christians in restaurants. We need them as teachers. We need them as doctors. We need them as nurses. We need them as musicians and sports figures and of course preachers and the list just goes on and on.
Believers need to be everywhere because we need believers to let their light shine everywhere. Well in effect Daniel had a ministry in politics. He influenced world leaders and he did not compromise that truth. So let's try to determine what qualities were in Daniel's life that we can emulate in ours.
If you're taking notes here's point number one. Daniel was a spiritual man. Daniel was a spiritual man. Verse three New King James says, Daniel distinguished himself above the other governors because an excellent spirit was in him.
What does that mean? That phrase excellent spirit can be translated spirit dominated. In other words for Daniel the spiritual life was not merely an afterthought. It was not something he simply found time for in his busy schedule.
No. Daniel made time for what mattered and that was his relationship with God. His whole life revolved around his relationship with God. Now when you say that about a person you might think well that that's impractical. And I think sometimes we may hear that someone is spiritual and that means they are probably kind of weird right. Because we will turn on the television and some preacher will say the Spirit just filled them and then they will do weird things and we will think man if that is the Spirit I don't want to be filled with the Spirit. That is in the Spirit. That is just weird preachers doing weird things.
That is all that is. Because the Bible says we should be filled with the Spirit in Ephesians 5 speaking to ourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. And by the way it has nothing to do with an emotional experience. You can be filled with the Spirit and feel it. You can be filled with the Spirit and feel nothing. Do you have an emotional experience when you put gas in your car?
Well maybe you do. One of anger when you see the gas prices going up right. It is a function. I need gas in my car so I can drive my car. So we say Lord fill me. What does it mean? It means to be empowered by but it also means to be permeated by. Because the word used there in Ephesians 5 for filled be filled with the Spirit means to permeate. And in that culture it was when salt permeated me to preserve it.
And then it is also a word that is used to describe wind filling the sails of a ship at sea. So when we say be filled with the Spirit we are saying let the Holy Spirit fill your sails and guide you through life. Let the Holy Spirit permeate every aspect of your life. Daniel was a Spirit filled man. And by the way you are never more clear headed than when you are being directed by the Holy Spirit. Because 2 Timothy 1 says God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind. A sound mind.
And that phrase can be translated a sound well balanced disciplined mind. And I might add that Daniel did this in the most ungodly of circumstances. What kind of culture was he living in? Well he was living in the lap of luxury being in the palace of the king. But he also was in the epicenter of rampant idolatry. There was incredible cruelty.
There was sexual immorality all around him. But despite this Daniel remained a righteous man and even flourished spiritually. I think sometimes we may think I need to get away from all nonbelievers. I want to only hang out with Christians and only listen to Christian radio and drive a car that I bought from a Christian and live in a neighborhood surrounded by Christians and then I will go to church and be with more Christians. And I even my food it has to be Christian. Everything has to be Christian. Well I am all for supporting Christian businesses and hanging out with believers.
I think you know that. But the reality is sometimes when we are out there in culture we can make an impact. And often the most unfavorable circumstances are the most favorable for spiritual growth and becoming more like Jesus. See Daniel had to make a stand.
And we are going to see why in just a moment. But he was going to shine his light in a very dark place. He was a spiritual man. That is point number one.
Point number two. Daniel was a man of purpose. Daniel was a man of purpose.
We saw this in chapter one where we read that Daniel purposed in his heart to not eat of the food from the king's table. He purposed in his heart. So basically he made a stand in a seemingly small area when he was just a boy.
Probably a teenager. He and his buddies Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were taking his captives from Israel to Babylon brought into the king's palace to sort of be groomed in the Babylonian ways. And Daniel made a principled stand to not eat the food at the table of the king. We don't even know why he made that stand. The Bible doesn't say. Maybe it is because the food was offered to idols.
I think that is probably the case. And so he made a deal with the guy in charge. He says, let us eat vegetables for a period of time.
You all eat the food from the king's table and we will see how we fare. And in the end he was healthier than anybody else. So the point was God honored the stand. It wasn't a big thing but it was to Daniel. And that gave him the strength to make a stand in a much bigger thing later on in his life.
You see the fact of the matter is if we make the stand in small areas later we will be able to make the stand in stronger areas. He was a teenager then. But in the story before us he is probably 80 years old. And you know what they say. When you get old you get set in your ways. You like routine.
You like to do it the same way. Well that can be bad or good. It can be bad in as far as maybe you are not open to any kind of change. But it can be good if you are set in your spiritual ways. And you have hardened in your spiritual disciplines. And that was Daniel. He knew what he believed and he was not going to compromise one bit.
He wasn't going to blend into the woodwork. You know we have a choice in life. We can be a thermostat or we can be a thermometer. A thermostat you set that to determine the temperature in the room. And I don't know about you but in my house my wife always wants it warmer and I always want it colder.
Am I the only one? And that becomes problematic when you are in a car. Right. But a thermostat controls the surroundings. A thermometer just tells you what the temperature is.
Are you a thermometer or are you a thermostat? In other words you go into a room and you just sort of adapt to whatever is happening in the room or are you the one changing the room? When the man of God or the woman of God walks into that room they say, okay, the Christian's here. Conversations change. People change.
That's a good thing. That was Daniel, a spiritual man, a purposeful man. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. We're so encouraged when we hear that Pastor Greg's teachings are making an impact on people's lives and relationships. Dear Pastor Greg, I listened to a message you recently gave about going to someone in our past and forgiving them.
My flesh didn't want to do it but I know that obedience brings a blessing and we are to be obedient to God and not our flesh. I don't know how your message came to me today but it came at the right time because God's never late, right? He gives us what we need when we need it and I needed your message today. Pastor Greg, may God bless you and your family. It's a blessing to know that God is using his word to touch hearts. How have Pastor Greg's studies impacted your life? Would you let him know?
Drop an email to Greg at harvest dot org. Well, we're studying the life of Daniel today. Pastor Greg is pointing out what set him apart. He was a spiritual man and a purposeful man. Let's continue.
And number three, probably because he was a spiritual man and a purposeful man, he also was a persecuted man. Let's read about it. Daniel 6 starting in verse 5.
I'm reading from the New International Version. At this the administrators and the satraps trying to find ground surcharges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men were said we will never find any basis or charges against this man, Daniel, unless it has something to do with the law of his God.
Wow. We've got to bring this guy down. Problem is there's no scandals in his life. There's no skeletons in his closet. In fact, he prays in his closet. How are we going to get rid of him?
There's only one way they realized. We have to have something that concerns him and his God. What do we know about Daniel? We know this one thing about him. Every day he goes home and he opens up his windows and he gets down on his knees and he prays openly to God.
We've got to do something that will stop him or at least we'll have him arrested for doing that very thing. So they go to the king and they can't wait to get to the king. Verse 6 says they thronged the king. That's the New King James Version. They thronged the king. King listen.
We all talked about this and you've got to do this. Everyone is in agreement including Daniel. You need to pass a law that no one can pray to any God except you. Verse 8. They said your majesty issue and sign this law so it cannot be changed. An official law of the Medes and Persians that cannot be revoked. So Darius the king signed the law. Now maybe Darius thought well this could be a good way to unify the people now they're under Persian control. We want them to have something that they all believe in and they can all believe in me. I'll be their God. And it probably really appealed to his ego. Hey I like that idea that people would regard me as a God.
But here is where it backfired. He just signed the death warrant for his friend Daniel the prophet. And he couldn't revoke it because if in theory you are a God how could a God make a mistake?
So he couldn't revoke his own law that he signed. And now he realizes Daniel is going to be arrested and thrown into a den of lions. But that didn't matter to Daniel because point number four. Daniel was a praying man. Yes he was a spiritual man. Yes he was a purposeful man. Yes he was a persecuted man.
And let's not miss this. He was a praying man. Maybe nothing stands out in the story of Daniel more than this one simple fact. This was a man of prayer. Look at verse 10. When Daniel learned the law had been signed he went home and freaked out.
No that is not what we read is it? He went home and he knelt down as usual in his upstairs room with its windows open toward Jerusalem and prayed three times a day just as he had always done giving thanks to his God. Don't you love that verse? Just as he had always done. He had done this from his youth.
He was still doing it in his later years. No doubt on his knees he received his fearless courage. Reminding us of this simple truth. If you kneel before God you can stand before any man. Let me say that again.
If you kneel before God you can stand before any man. It would have been tempting for old Daniel to maybe shut the windows. This was a 30 day period.
A month. So for one month you had to pray to the king and no one else. He could have said, you know what? I will shut the windows and I will pray silently.
Besides you don't have to pray out loud to pray so I will pray where they can't see me. Or he could have said, you know what? I am due for a little R&R. I am going to skip town and take some time off. When I come home this crazy law will be over with. Or he might have said, well what good is it if I am dead. You know so I will just go ahead and honor this law.
Besides I have been praying so much I am pretty prayed up. I think I have the bases covered. He could have done a lot of things but he would have known that would have been a violation of what was right. Again he was a principled man.
He thought, no, no. I am not changing anything. I am going to go and pray as I always have done. And we will face similar challenges.
Just not as dramatic necessarily. Like that prayer for a meal in a restaurant. Do you pray when you go out to eat in restaurants before you? Do you pray over your food? How many of you did that?
Just raise your hand. Yeah, most of you. That's good. Now some don't do it. Well I don't want to do that.
Just you know kind of weird. I think it is a great thing to do. I think it is a good witness. I have seen families all bow their heads and pray over a meal. And I think that is a great testimony. Just you know if you do it though leave a tip.
I am actually dead serious about that. Because if you go and do your little prayer and all hallelujah glory to God and you don't leave a tip that waitress is not going to be impressed at all. You know so leave a gratuity. But having said that I think it is a good testimony to say we are going to offer this prayer. And just a little tip about prayer for meals. When you are in a restaurant and the food has arrived and the food is hot go ahead and pray. Give thanks and keep your prayers short. We don't need to hear your hour long prayer. We are not impressed. We are hungry.
Ok. But then it might be a family gathering you know. And you are the token Christian in your family. And it is Thanksgiving.
And you know and Uncle Harry has already passed out drunk right. And it is just a mess. And here is everyone. And now here is the meal. Oh what are we going to do. Are we going to have the prayer.
No one wants to say anything. And it is that awkward moment. And then you know are you going to step up to the plate and say let's give thanks to God right now. Let's all hold hands and pray. I am not doing that. Why not. You know what. Most people will pray when you initiate it I found.
Even nonbelievers. I might talk to someone who I have never met and they will mention something like well I am having to get a test done in the hospital. I will say I will remember to pray for you. Would that be ok. Yes please do pray for me. Sometimes say I will pray for you right now. Please do.
I would love that. So people are very open to this. Take advantage of those opportunities. Listen to this. Jesus said if you will confess me before men I will confess you before the Father. We all know that verse. I quote it a lot don't I. If you deny me before men I will deny you before the Father and the angels.
But listen to this. Sometimes one way to deny Him is to not confess Him. In other words it is not saying I don't believe in Jesus. That is denying Him for sure.
But another way to deny Him is when you are given an opportunity to and you don't take it. Someone might walk up to you and say you know I noticed something different about you. You work extra hard. You are very cheerful.
You have a great family. There seems to be like this peace and serenity in you. What is it about you that makes you different from everyone else. And you say well it is traditional values. And your voice even changes. Well I just talk like this occasionally. What is wrong with you.
It is not traditional values. It is Jesus Christ. Say it is Jesus Christ. It is my faith in Christ. Tell Him you believe in the Bible.
See by not taking that opportunity that is kind of a form of denying Him isn't it. So Daniel thought I am not denying my faith. I am not going to hide my faith.
I am going to hold the course that I have always held up to this point and will continue to hold that course. So we need to point people to Christ. Take it even a step further and use it as an opportunity to share your faith.
That is what we need to do. We will have to wait until next time to finish the story. Just a spoiler alert.
God preserves him in the lion's den. I don't know if you know the story. Don't wait for the movie. Read the book. It is right here. I wonder why they haven't made a movie about this.
But yes of course the Lord preserved him. And we will get to that in our next part to this message. But let me just say we will be persecuted for our faith. We will be harassed. We will be insulted. So what should we do when people do that?
Answer. We should keep doing what we are doing. We should keep praying. We should keep preaching. And we should keep living the Christian life.
Why should we do that? Because people are watching us just like even his enemies are watching him. Daniel I am talking about. More even than that God is watching us. And we want to have him say to us in that final day, well done good and faithful servant.
What a deal. The Lord says just stand up for me in front of people. And I will stand up for you in heaven before the Father and the angels.
Wow. And what do I have to do again? Just stand up for me. Just speak up for me. Look for opportunities to tell others about me. That is what you need to do.
That is a deal of the century isn't it? Let me close by saying this to you. Maybe some of you have joined us today who don't have this relationship with God. You don't know if Jesus Christ is living inside of you. You don't know if you will go to heaven when you die.
But you would like to know that. I don't want you to leave today without knowing that there is a God in heaven who loves you. Yeah but Lord I am such a disappointment. Trust me.
I have seen worse. But I love you. And I put the judgment that should have come upon you for your sin and your wickedness. Upon my own beloved son Jesus who died on the cross in your place. And because Jesus suffered and died in your place and rose again from the dead you don't have to face the penalty for your sin.
I love you. And I want to forgive you. Would you like to be forgiven of all of your sin? Is there anyone here today that needs a second chance in life? Is there someone here that has even said they are Christian but maybe in a sense you have denied him?
Or maybe there is someone here who has never heard this before. It is all news to you. And you didn't know you could have this relationship with God.
Well you can. He is just a prayer away. Jesus as He stands at the door of our life and He knocks and if we will hear His voice and open the door He will come in. And I am going to give you an opportunity to pray and ask Him in. So let's all bow our heads for a word of prayer. Everybody praying. Father thank You for loving us so much.
You sent Jesus to the cross to die in our place. Lord Jesus thank You for coming and making that great sacrifice and then rising again. And now Lord I pray for every person here who does not know You. I pray that Your Holy Spirit will convict and convince them of their sin and bring them to Yourself even now. In Jesus name I pray. Amen. And if you would like to make a change today in your relationship with the Lord, Pastor Greg Laurie will lead you in doing just that in a moment. Please don't tune away.
This could be the most important decision you've ever made. Well Pastor Greg we're so excited about your new book, Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus. It's a look at the lives of dozens and dozens of well-known music icons and the way their lives rose to the top and then often crashed to the bottom and the reasons for that. Now some of the people you talk about in the book obviously have passed on. Which one of them would be at the top of the list of those you'd like to meet and have a conversation with if that were possible?
Yeah that's a really good question. I wish, oh my, there's so many, so many. I think of Janice Joplin. Very talented young lady, harassed, made fun of when she was a young girl, extraordinarily talented, died so young, 27. I wish I could have sat down with her and said, Janice God loves you and even if others don't love you as they ought to, you are loved by the Lord and He has a plan and a purpose for your life. I wish I could have sat down with John Lennon and said, John you need to just follow Jesus. You've made a profession of faith in Him. Now you need to just grow in your faith spiritually and continue on to discover all that God has in store for you.
I wish I could have sat down with Jimi Hendrix, in my opinion, the greatest guitar player who ever lived by accounts of people that knew him. He was a kind person, he was a humble person, but he was a man who was searching as well and I just wish I could have told these people that there's a God in heaven who loved them and had a plan for their life. I wish I could tell them that their life matters and so many people care so deeply about them and I can't tell them that, unfortunately, but I can talk to people who are alive today who maybe are despondent, who maybe have thought about taking their lives, some who have even attempted to take their lives and say, look, this is not the way you want to go. Here's the way you want to go. You want to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ and discover his plan for your life and get to know him and then you'll have that happiness and that peace that you've longed for throughout your entire life.
Yeah, yeah, that's right. And you know, there are some listening right now who have a close friend or loved one who's at that same crossroad today. They need to hear that message of hope. Let us send you a copy of this new book, Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus. Read it yourself and then pass along this good news to the person you care about. It's a strong wake-up call and it's a message of hope. And we'd like to send the book your way to thank you for your investment in Harvest Ministries and A New Beginning.
We're listener supported and without listener partnership, we simply couldn't be here each day. We're so grateful for your generosity. And when you make your donation today, we'd like to thank you with Pastor Greg's new book, Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus. And today is our last opportunity to mention this, so get in touch right away. You can call us at 1-800-821-3300. That's a 24-hour phone number, 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California, 92514. Or go online to harvest.org. Pastor Greg, a few moments ago you spoke of how someone can accept God's offer of eternal life.
That's right. Could you help the person who wants to do that right now? Yes, I'd be delighted to. Listen, as you've listened to this program today, maybe something's been happening inside of your heart where you're sensing, I need to do this personally, but how do I do it and what do I do? Let me help you. It's very simple.
In fact, it's so simple you may be shocked. God, this relationship with Him is just a prayer away. The Bible says if you will call upon the name of the Lord, you'll be saved. So I'd like to lead you in a prayer where you do just that. You call on the name of the Lord. This can be the moment where you change your eternal address literally from hell to heaven. Just pray these words. Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner, but I know that you're the Savior who died on the cross for me and rose again from the dead. Jesus, I choose to follow you from this moment forward. In your name I pray. Amen.
I know. It's such a simple, short prayer, but you just called on the name of the Lord and you know what? He heard that prayer and if you meant that prayer in your heart, he answered that prayer. Now let me help you to get started on the right foot in your new life in Jesus Christ. The greatest adventure awaits you, the life of walking with God. I want to send you what we call a New Believers' Growth Pack that includes the New Believers' Bible and a whole lot more.
And let me be the first to say to you congratulations and welcome to the family of God. And to get that free New Believers' Growth Pack, just ask for it if you prayed along with Pastor Greg to receive Christ today. We'll be glad to send one your way. Call us at 1-800-821-3300. We're here to take your call around the clock, so dial right now 1-800-821-3300.
Or write us at A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or go online to harvest.org and click Know God. Well as Pastor Greg said, we'll continue the story of Daniel next time.
It's an important part of the Daniel series called End of Days. Join us here on A New Beginning with Pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Lauren. The preceding podcast was made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Learn how to become a Harvest Partner, sign up for daily devotions, and find resources to help you grow in your faith at harvest.org.
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