6/19/16 - Framed - Daniel

The Bridge Life Connection

Framed: Daniel                                                                                                            Sunday, June 19, 2016

Speaker: Chip Hitz, Next Generations Director

Well, good morning! And as we already said, this is Father's Day, and for all of you that play that role or are a father, we just thank you for all you do and the influence that you do in your children.

We are in the second part of a series called "Framed," and we're looking at stories from the Bible that are very interesting. Today we're going to be looking at a story that basically is the making of a lawbreaker. For most of us, we do not start off our mornings trying to figure out how many laws we can break. Now, we might have a to-do list, but I doubt very many of you have a list where you actually have maybe ten things on your list and it's different laws that you want to try to break today. And you check 'em off as you're going along and if you hit six or seven and you're really feeling good for the day.

Laws bring certainty and stability to life, and wherever there are more than two people, there's going to be disagreements, there's going to be disputes, and we need some kind of a structure in order to deal with those things. I was talking with my son-in-law who's a lawyer, and we were just talking about this particular topic, and John said, "Laws help us govern our lives with an expectation of consequences for our actions. So when you do something, you reasonably can predict what is going to happen if you get caught."

Now, chances are, there are some laws that you either just don't like, you believe are morally wrong, or you think are just kind of silly. For instance, in the city of Youngstown, their city ordinance...in fact, it's Section 33144, states that in a certain part of town, you may not run out of gas. Now I don't know about you guys...and this is actually a law on their books. I remember one time when I was about 18 years old, trying to get home by 11 o'clock for curfew, and about three miles from home, and I run out on this dark, country road. And the only building that was nearby was this farmhouse that had one light on. I remember walking up to that thing, oh, I hope these people are friendly. And I'm knocking on their door at 11 o'clock and luckily they allowed me to make a phone call, because back in those days, you didn't have cell phones, so you couldn't just call for help. And luckily, I believe my father came with a gas can and bailed me out. But that is not something you want to go ahead and do, so it's amazing that there would be a law on the books that would actually have to be put in for something like that.

There's also laws that morally you can really struggle with. If any of you have ever been out west, you know about water rights. And some states out west get very little water, and they really depend on the mountain peaks, and when the mountain peaks, the snow on the top starts to melt, the water comes down on the rivers, and they can purchase rights to certain amounts of those waters. In Colorado, I read this one particular law, and it said Colorado law prohibits the use of rain barrels or methods to catch rain for the use up until the year 2009 when they eradicated that law, but then they put in two new laws. And it said the two new laws allow residents with private wells to start harvesting rainwater, but the thing is, you had to have a private well, otherwise you still could not do it. Just 75 miles west in Utah, collecting rainwater from roofs is still illegal unless the roof owner also owns the rights to the ground. I don't know about you guys, but my wife and I, we have a rain barrel, and I think of it as being something good. I think we're conserving the water. If I lived out west, I could actually be a lawbreaker for doing that same thing. So it's really interesting how that happens.

And then there's just some laws that you really don't like. For instance, my wife and I, we like to go for a run on Saturday mornings. And when we get to the square in Hummelstown, there's the button you have to push to go ahead and cross. Now it's interesting how my mind justifies things. If I'm walking and I push that, I will wait. I'm with the law, I'm not going to break the law. But when I get there and I'm jogging? I look both ways, and if no cars are coming, I run across. I'm thinking, well, it's says 'Don't walk." So I'm like, that's how I justify it. I don't know how that would hold up in front of a court of law, but at least in my mind I think I can get away with that.

So, you're going to find also, and it's interesting, for some people, the law is black and white, and you do not cross that. If somebody tells you this is the way it is, you absolutely follow that. A few weeks ago, there was a really cute incident, that some of you might have seen on video, of a six-year-old boy who thought he knew exactly what the law was, and when his father, in his eyes, crossed the line, he did something very interesting. Let's take a look:

9-1-1 dispatcher: 9-1-1, what is your emergency?

Robbie: Daddy went past a red light.

Narrator: As the saying goes, father knows best, but one six-year-old in Massachusetts begs to differ. Young Robbie Richardson called 9-1-1 on Saturday to report that his father had gone through a red light.

Robbie: My daddy went past a red light.

Narrator: The two were driving through town when the dad, Mike, made a right turn at an intersection. Robbie informed him that they had the stop signal and that what he had done was wrong. Even though Mike assured him it's okay because they came to a stop first, the second they got home, Robbie dialed 9-1-1 and gave his father up.

Robbie: He has a black truck, and he was in, he was in the brand-new car, my mommy's car.

9-1-1 dispatcher: Yeah.

Robbie: And then um...

9-1-1 dispatcher: And what happened?

Robbie: And then he just...and he had to go to the car wash and then he went past the red light.

9-1-1 dispatcher: He did?

Robbie:  Mm-hmm.

9-1-1 dispatcher: Is he home right now?

Robbie: Yeah.

9-1-1 dispatcher: Can I talk to him?

Narrator: No charges were pressed, and Mike later explained to Robbie that 9-1-1 is only for emergencies.

Robbie (handing phone to Mike): Somebody just called.

Mike: Okay. Hello?

9-1-1 dispatcher: Hi, Quincy Police.

Mike: Oh, no. I am...I'm just going to apologize. That's my five-year-old son.

9-1-1 dispatcher: He just wanted to let us know you ran a red light.

Mike: {laughs} Oh, no. I apologize.

9-1-1 dispatcher: No problem, as long as everything's all set.

Mike: Yep, yeah, we're good. Thank you.

9-1-1 dispatcher: Have a good day.

Well, I have the feeling for many Father's Days to come, that particular phone call is going to be brought up and they're going to be talking about that.

Now, law, as long as there's been man, we have been breaking them. You go back to Adam and Eve, and what did God tell them? They had one tree in this beautiful garden that they could not eat from, and of course, they go and they eat from it. So we have always struggled with laws. Most laws are written with honorable intentions, but there are some that are really, they definitely are not, and justice is not served by those particular laws.

Today we're going to look at the story of Daniel and the Lions' Den. And this is a story that really deals with one particular law that was written to get one person in trouble. A little background on Daniel, this story takes place about 539 B.C. Daniel was taken from his home captive, and was put in a foreign land about 900 miles away, somewhere around the age 16. Maybe even 15 or 17, but somewhere in that particular age.

They recognized in Daniel that he had qualities of leadership, so he actually was given three years of specialized training while he was in captivity, and he rose amongst the ranks, and he was able to do amazing things even though he was held 900 miles away from home. He was a very stand-up person, and he did not give in to pressure. It was interesting where it talks about how he was invited to sit at the king's royal table for supper, and you would just have the most outlandish selection of food and drink, and he would just always stick to his basic diet. And he would never venture away from that. He was a man that loved God in a country where that was not the norm, and he didn't boast about it but he was very steadfast, and he would pray to God morning, noon, and night.

We're going to go ahead and start the story by reading to you from Daniel 6: 1-5. And this is the beginning. "Darius, the Mede, decided to divide the kingdom into 120 provinces, and he appointed a prince to rule over each province. The king also chose Daniel and two others as administrators to supervise the princes and to watch out for the king's interests. Daniel soon proved himself more capable than other administrators and princes. Because of this great ability, the king made plans to place him over the entire empire."

Now, at this time, Daniel would've been around 80 years old. He had been...he had actually worked with three other kings as well. And it's interesting, because the king and the top administrators, no one else believed in God. And this is a great example for us of how you can work in your workplace and use your actions to go ahead and speak highly of Christ.

Now, as his co-workers heard that Darius...and Darius had only been in office for a short period of time...was thinking about making him number two above the other two, they became jealous. And they started to look for what can we do to take this guy down? His work was impeccable, he was a great administrator, and he did everything correctly. The only thing they could think is, but he prays to this God, and so they start thinking and in verses 6 through 8, this is what they come up with.

"So the administrators and princes went to the king and said, 'Long live King Darius!'" So they're just praising him, and he is just taking this in. "'We administrators, prefects, princes, advisors, and other officials have unanimously agreed that Your Majesty should make a law that will be strictly enforced. Give orders that for the next 30 days anyone who prays to anyone divine or human except to Your Majesty will be thrown to the lions. And let Your Majesty issue and sign this law so it cannot be changed, a law of the Medes and the Persians which cannot be revoked.

Now, it's interesting because they said unanimously; Daniel did not even know about this law, so they kind of "accidentally" skipped that. But then they also made sure that the king would go ahead and sign this into law because this is very important in those days. When the king would sign a royal order, it could not be changed.

As I was reading for this particular topic, I came across an article that talked about a different king who was a royal king, and he had sentenced a man to death. Later on, before this man was actually put to death, he realized that they had made a great mistake and this man had not committed the crime, but they still put him to death because of the royal order. In those days, there were no appeals. If it was decreed, it was law, and it had to be done.

So Darius signs this law, but Daniel just keeps on praying. So he hears about this law and he's like, no, I am not gonna go ahead and do that. And he continues every morning, noon, and night, to go to his house, and he goes to the window they said which faces west toward Jerusalem, and he would pray to God. So people walking by would see him. He wasn't trying to be boastful about it, but he did this, and this was his ritual that he would do. Thus, he becomes a law-breaker. The day before, he wasn't, but now he is a lawbreaker.

Well, these people that got this law, what do they do? They run over to his house and they wait. Because they're just sure he's going to do this, and he doesn't let them down. And sure enough, they see him praying so they hurry back to King Darius, and they say, 'King! We have found somebody that is disobeying the law we just put in. They are not respecting you.' And of course the king goes, 'Well then they must be sentenced to death.' And then they go, 'Oh, by the way, it's Daniel.' The king...I can just imagine his shoulders drop. This king loved this man. This man had done nothing but good for him. He was probably the closest, the person he could trust the most of anybody, and he realized that he had now been tricked, and he's going to put his friend to death.

Well, first, he gets his top advisors and he says, 'Is there any way we can get out of this?' And they say, 'No, King. Once you have done this, you know as well as we do it must happen, and it must happen within the day.' So as we go to verse 16, it says, "So at last the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of the lions. The king said to him, 'May your God, whom you worship, continually rescue you.'"

They place a large stone in front of the entrance, and the king puts some kind of a seal on that so that nobody will break into it. That night, the king refused to eat. He fasted, and evidently there's a lot of entertainment that they would provide for the royals every night. He did not partake in that. He was so upset. He could not believe that this man that he probably trusted and loved as much as anybody in the world, it was because of him that this man was going to die.

Very early that next morning...in verses 21 and 22, it says "Very early the next morning, the king hurried out to the lions' den. When he got there, he called out in anguish, 'Daniel, servant of the living God, was your God whom you worship continually able to rescue you from the lions?'" And he just waits. And then he hears. "Daniel answers, 'Long live the king! My God sent his angel to shut the lions' mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in His sight, and I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.'"

Well, the king is just so grateful and happy, he orders his servants to go ahead and help get him out of the pit. There is not a single scratch on Daniel, and he has been in with a pit of hungry lions all night long. What the king does next is he takes the men who tricked him into signing this law - along with their families - they are all thrown in to the pit. Not a single one of them survives. The king, it doesn't say anywhere where the king actually became a Christian, but without a doubt, he had tremendous respect for Daniel. And in verses 26 and 27, it says, "I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel for He is the living God and He will endure forever. His kingdom will never be destroyed, and His rule will never end. He rescues and saves His people, He performs miraculous signs of wonder in the heavens and on earth, He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions."

You know, sometimes in life, our stories validate our actions. And now the king had known that this Daniel spoke to his God and he was very passionate about it. But going through this particular action, which really seemed very unjust, was kind of what really cemented it for the king. And the decree that he puts out there is just absolutely amazing and very inspiring.

We like to go ahead and, when we talk on Sunday mornings, we like to have something you can take with you and really use throughout the week because if it ends right here, then you know what? It's not helping anybody. And so there's three points we're going to talk to you about today.

First off, injustice. We all experience injustices in our lives, and we can all relate to something that's unfair or that we did not deserve. I think about our brothers and sisters in Orlando. I also watched yesterday on the news it was the one-year anniversary of the church family in Charleston, South Carolina, who were viciously, cruelly killed. And that one, that particular one was because a young man wanted to try to start a race war. Injustice makes us angry. And injustice, there's an...anger is an emotion, and sometimes I think when we think about anger we think oh, that's not bad, you can never get angry. Well, even Jesus got angry.

I remember there's a story where some of the religious elite are talking to Jesus, and it seemed like throughout the Bible they were always trying to get Jesus, to catch Him, to see if He'll slip up. And there was a situation on a Sabbath day where there was a man with a crippled hand, and they wanted to see if Jesus would work and heal him on that particular day. And Jesus knew what they were doing. But He was very upset that they had such hard hearts that they would want to go ahead and set this up and see this happen. And Jesus went ahead and He healed this man. But He used that anger in a positive way, and I think that's one of the keys.

Second, our choice on how we handle injustices is very important. For some of us, it pushes us away. Did you ever see that where it can break your heart? Something bad happens, you blame it on God, and you just, 'I don't want to have anything else to do with God. I can't believe He let this happen.' And for others, you see it draws them closer to God.

I think about both these incidents in Orlando, and I think about in Charleston, how the people have rallied in positive ways to not let violence and this hatred win out. And that is inspiring. The families of the victims, one year later, in Charleston, I was just hearing how they have all forgiven the shooter. I'm like, 'Wow!' What a testimony to God's love and to grace that you would see something like that. I think an important question for us to always ask, 'Is this something that we can justify in the end? Our actions.' Daniel was able to do that.

In verse 22, it says, "'I have been found innocent in His sight.' As he talked with the angel, the angel said, 'God has found you innocent for breaking that particular law.': That is important that we are able to do that as we strive to do things in a positive way.

Thirdly, trust. Who do you put your trust in? Is it God above all else, as Daniel did? I was looking for a closing story, and it was so funny. Last night it was about quarter of 11, and I'm actually reading something for a class, and God sends me my closing. God's timing is really cool, and you just never know when it's going to happen. I started reading this story, and it was about this man from Africa. His name was Shadrach Meloka, and he was born in 1929 in Ficksburg, South Africa. When he was born, his mother was unwed, and she left him to die. Well, the grandmother hears cries, and she goes over and she takes this young baby and she basically takes him in and adopts him. Now it's interesting what they do in that culture. What they do is you are named after something that happened on the day you were born. Now for this poor young man, the grandmother named him Mahunu, which means rejected. He would grow up, and this is a true story, he would grow up being called 'rejected.' You talk about having injustice, having something just thrown on you you don't deserve, a little baby. Imagine going to kindergarten. 'Your name?' 'Rejected.' And to deal with that.

It says that he would grow up in a crime-ridden and scorn-filled childhood, and I'm sure he broke a lot of laws, but this poor young boy, who your mother...you didn't know your father...your mother abandoned you, your grandmother brings you in, and instead of some kind of name like Hope or Joy, she names you 'Rejected,' and you deal with that the rest of your life.

Well, remember earlier on we said about choice. At 18, he went to a tent meeting, which would be sort of like one of our revivals. And he goes there, and he accepts Christ into his life. This young man, they end up changing his name to Shadrach. And Shadrach means 'One who goes on his way rejoicing.' So he goes from rejection to rejoicing. And he is now known as Shadrach Melaho. He has become a pastor and one of the most sought-out evangelists in all of South Africa.

How we take our injustices and what we do with them is very important. God can use every part of our lives for good. And sometimes you might see something and it's like, 'Oh, it seems so unbearable, and you want to push away from God.' But remember, draw toward God and allow God to use that. Will you join me in prayer?

Dear Heavenly Father, Lord, thank you so much for this opportunity for us to all be here today and just to worship you, Lord. Lord, we love you so much. Lord, we're talking about injustice, we're talking about becoming a lawbreaker, the story of Daniel, and Lord I just pray that as we go home and we think about yes, we all experience injustices in our life, but Lord, I pray that for each and every one of us the choices that we make will honor You in each and everything we do, Lord. I know they're not easy. And just like Shadrach in this story, wow, where you could just push away and never want to have anything to do with You, he comes and he worships You, and he becomes one of your greatest ambassadors. Lord, thank you so much for these opportunities to be able to be Your children. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.