Monday, June 25, 2018

When You Are Thankful, God is With You

Introduction
            I want to finish the story of Daniel and the Lion's Den that I started last week.  It was a lonely night in the Lion's Den for Daniel.  However, last week I told you that when you are lonely, God is with you.  Now I want to share that when you are thankful, God is with you.  For my message at church yesterday, I thought it would be neat to hear the story from Daniel's perspective.  So, I did something different I've never done before.  I dressed up like Daniel and recalled the story from his perspective as if I were Daniel.  I figured, who better to talk about the importance of being thankful than the man himself whom God rescued from the lion's den.  So in this blog, I will share a transcript of what Daniel said (well, my fictional version of Daniel anyway).  But first, let's hear the actual account from Daniel 6:16-28.

Daniel 6:16-28
16 Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.
17 And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.
18 Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him.
19 Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.
20 And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?
21 Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever.
22 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.
23 Then was the king exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.
24 And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.
25 Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.
26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.
27 He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

Daniel's Testimony
David was a very good king in my country.  He was not the king while I was alive.  He was king many years before I was born.  Most of the kings in my country were not very good.  I guess they get a lot of power and they just try to hold on to their power.  They do what they want.  And the people follow their lead and do what they want to do.  God was very clear.  Do not worship any God accept the Lord and do not make idols of any kind, but the people they still do it.  And so, uh, God sent prophets to warn us, "You shouldn't do this.  This is not a good way to live.  It will cause problems."   But the people won't listen.  They just didn't listen.  And so, God warned, "If you don't stop doing this, you are going to have a problem."  

And sure enough, when I was alive, when I was just a young man, a teenager, the Babylonian army, it comes to our country.  It kills many, many people.  It's terrible.  You can't understand how terrible it is.  And they capture our city and destroy it  And they even burn our temple to the ground.  It's terrible.  You cannot imagine.  And for me and some of my friends who were young and we had been educated, who were leaders, they take us into captivity back to Babylon.  

And uh, Babylon was a great place to live.  Beautiful place!  I mean, it was different from where I was, but they had so many big buildings and so much money and power.  So it wasn't so bad, but what we want to live is back in our home.  And our home was destroyed and it was very hard.  But God was with us.

You've heard the story...  You see, most people think that I was a young man when they threw me in the lion's den.  But no.  I was only sixteen when they took me to Babylon, but I lived there almost all my life.  And I was eighty-years-old when they threw me in the lion's den.  They say we can't pray to anyone but king Darius for thirty days.  And I know that is not right.  King Darius--I like king Darius, he was a good man, but he is not a god.  Why would I pray to him?  And so I pray only to God.  And they say, "You can only pray to king Darius."  And I say, "Well, what shall I do?" I am eighty-years-old.  They say they will throw you into the lion's den if you pray to God.  I always pray to God.  What shall I do?  I will only pray to God, because God has been good to me.  And I know God is for real and king Darius is only a man.  I knew that it was dangerous, but hey I'm eighty-years-old anyway so what are they gonna do?  So they come and arrest me and throw me in the lion's den.

As I go into the lion's den, I am ready.  I'm not afraid of death.  I'm afraid of the lions!  You know, I want to go to sleep and die in my sleep.  That's OK.  I have lived eighty years.  I'm OK with that.  I don't mind, but I don't want to be eaten.  That's not sound very good at all.  And so I come into the lion's den and there I am and I am wondering...  I know my God is a good God.  He has always been with me and He can protect me, but still there's something about being in the presence of a bunch of lions that's kind of frightening.  So there I am and I'm wondering will they bite me?  Will they chew off my foot?  Will they pounce on me?  Will it be quick?  Will it be over a long time?  Will it be painful?  And amazing!  They don't, they don't attack me!  They just sleeping in the corner!  Why is this?  Do I not taste good or something?  I don't know.  I'm very glad, but I'm still thinking, maybe they won't bite me know.  Maybe in an hour they will wake up and notice I am there...  But the night goes on and four hours go by and they still not bother me.  So, I am thinking maybe I will make it through this thing alive!  And I am thankful to God.  And after six hours I am thinking, This is kind of cool.  I've never been so close to a lion before.  Have you?  I wonder should I go over and touch them, but I'm thinking let's don't press it ok?  I mean it would be cool to touch a lion, but I don't want to do that...

And all of this goes on all night long and the longer it goes on the more I am thanking my God that I am able to be here in this lion's den and I am still alive.  And I am thanking Him that all the eighty years He has taken care of me.  So I have been with King Nebuchadnezzar the king, and I have been with other kings, and king Belshazzar, and now this king Darius. (And king Darius is having a lot of trouble keeping everything in line.  And I like king Darius.  But he had to learn to be a leader and not just do what people want you to do but what is right--what you know in you heart is right--even if it means they throw you in the lion's den.  But he was young so he still had to learn.)

But I learned that you have to be thankful, because when you are thankful, God is with you.  And then that morning the sun comes up and I hear the voice from the other side of the door.  "Daniel!  Daniel!  Are you still alive?  Has your God saved you?"  and I cry out, "Long live the king!  I am still alive!"  And he welcomes me out and I am so thankful.  

And, you know, I learned something that night.  You have to be thankful for what God does for you, because it's not just the right thing to do.  It's not just the polite thing to do.  It's good for your own heart too.  You see, because you cannot control what happens to your life.  Sometimes there will be good things that happen to you and it's easy to be thankful for them.  But there are other times bad things are happening; can you still be thankful?  You can't control what happens to you.  Only thing you can control is how you respond to what happens.  You see?  This is something I learned in Babylon.  Very many bad things happened and you can't control them.  But you can say, "I will be angry!  I will think everyone hates me!  I will be angry with God!"  Or I can have a good attitude.  I can be thankful.  And how you respond it affects your life.  If you respond with thankfulness, you will realize you have so much to be thankful for.  You have a good life!  Even if you are in the lion's den and you are thankful you will find there are many things you can be proud of and happy that God has taken care of you and God has already given you more than your really deserve.  You have a good life.  Or, you can be angry and whine and complain...  The more you complain, the more you think, "My life is not so good."  

And I have seen...  I saw this in Babylon because it was such a wealthy place, so many rich people there in Babylon and none of them happy.  None of them happy.  And I am thinking, "My homeland is gone.  My temple is destroyed and burned to the ground, but I still have my God and I am thankful and I am happy!"  And all these rich people, they are not happy.  All they thinking is "Oh!  I wish I had a better house.  Oh!  I wish I had a better couch."  They complain about the things they have and I think, "I have nothing, but I am happy.  You are rich and you are not."  I am glad that my life is good and I am sorry for you that you think your life is bad.  But this is a truth you should learn in your heart.  Will you be thankful?  

Now, after the lion's den, sometimes I still forget to be thankful.  That was not the last problem I had in my life.  There were still other problems.  And sometimes I still think, "Oh!  I wish my life were better."  You know I am older.  My back hurts and I can't stand up straight and my eyes don't see so good and I start to think about all these things and I get to moaning and whining and complaining and I get depressed...  And then I think, "Wait a minute, Daniel.  Stop it!  You were in the lion's den all night and you didn't get ate!  You can be thankful.  Be thankful and have a good life!  So you have a bad back; it's ok!  You're alright!"  And so, you have to remember.

So when you go through life, always be thankful to the Lord for what He has done.  Say ten times the things you are thankful for and only one time the thing you are worrying about.  It's OK to tell Jehovah God what you need and to tell Him your problems.  He cares about you.  And hey, if they going to throw you into the lion's den, pray about it!  Right!  The lion's dens, they come for us all one way or another.  And God wants to know when we need His help, but pray ten times more about the things you are thankful for.  Praise Him!  The Scripture tells us to praise Him.  There was a song we used to sing when I was a a little boy (I can't remember the tune anymore).  It says, "Give thanks to the Lord for He is good!  His faithful love endure forever!"  That's so true!  Give thanks to the Lord, all the time, for His faithful love endures forever.  His faithful love endures even when you are in the lion's den.  Even when your back hurts.  Even when your children are not doing what you tell them to do.  Whatever you are facing in life, be thankful, because then you realize God gave you life and breath and you get to enjoy this amazing world.  And you have a good life if you are thankful.  

So, thank you so much for letting me come and be with you today. I asked Pastor Chris, How should I end this message today.  He said, "I have a song I want them to listen to and listen to the lyrics."  So, here it is.  Be sure to bring your kids to VBS each night this week from 6:00-8:00 PM.  I will be visiting with the kids each night this week at VBS.  God bless you.

"Say Amen" by Finding Favor