Monthly Archives: September 2019

Final words of encouragement

September 18, 2019  

Jude 1:24-25 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Today marks the end of a journey for Michelle and I. This afternoon we will begin a new chapter in our lives, as will you as a church. In this moment my mind is swirling with so many memories from the last nine years of ministry here at PCC. I want to make this moment to thank you for being a part of our lives. We have learned so much from so many of you. Your courage through the struggles you faced have been a source of encouragement for us. We have been blessed to watch how God has grown so many of you in the Lord over these years. In our conversations and from your questions you have encouraged me to be a better person, better pastor, and have even forced me to consider what I believe so that I can communicate that in a better way.

As we leave, today, we leave with a part of all of you in our hearts. Through these almost nine years we have laughed together. We have cried together. We have just sat and rested in the silence of the moment. Sometimes this happened at McDonalds. Sometimes it was in the ER. Sometimes it was in your homes. Sometimes it was by your bed or the bed of your loved. We were together as some of you were in the hospital recovering from surgery or dealing with the pain of a disease that was controlling your body or the body of your loved you. With many of you we have shared our lives and you have shared some of your deep hurts. Someone asked me the other day if I would continue to keep all of their secrets secret. Please know that is the truth as I leave today I carry with me your stories, your pain, your joy, and so much more. I trust that in these nine years we have made some difference in your life.We may part ways today and go our separate ways, but as believers in Christ we know we will meet again. 

I could spend so much time on these things but I want to share some encouragement and turn our attention toward God and not myself. As I preparing for this, I wanted to share some things that would encourage you and leave you focused on the greatness of God and not on Bob Odom. The first thing I want you know is that God has a plan. We have talked about this often over the last few weeks but I wanted to reinforce this again today. Just because we do not understand the plan does not diminish the work of the Lord. In a particular segment of time we often do not always understand God’s will, but as we are obedient to His will and we align ourselves with His purposes, God’s blessings flows from us to those around us and we begin to see more clearly what God’s will is for us. 

How do I know that God has plan? It is because the idea of transition is nothing new. Throughout Scripture there have been those who have transitioned and given their leadership over to another.  We see this with Moses. We see this with Elijah. We see it with David. Transitions have occurred before and God uses them to bring us to the next place in our lives. Since this is not anything new, what is happening today is not the end of the world because God has a plan for you which means there are better days ahead for you. God has the new pastor already picked out and he will be the perfect pastor for this church. 

We have talked about this before, but remember that Moses led the Children of Israel in the wilderness but he was not allowed to enter into the promise land. God’s plan was to prepare Israel for the Promised Land and God used Moses to get the people to the place where they were ready to enter what had been promised to them. You see during the wilderness journey, they needed to have a change of heart and during this journey they were able to see this happen. While they had been delivered out of Egypt, they still needed to be emptied of the ways of Egypt in their heart. God did that through the 40 days in the wilderness. They were now prepared to enter the promise. But Moses would not lead them. Joshua was to do that and we find in the Book of Joshua that under his leadership they conquered and took the land on behalf of God. I pray that under the leadership of the new pastor that you will do just that. 

When it was time for Elijah to pass from this life to the next Elisha asked that he be given a double portion of what Elijah had. Elijah’s response was if you are with me when I exit this world, I will give you my mantle and will pass along the anointing that has been with me. As we read the story, we find that as Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind, the mantle of Elijah fell upon Elisha. And as we follow the story, we find that Elisha did do twice as many miracles as Elijah. May this church flourish and grow in the days ahead and do so much more than ever imagined!

David handed the leadership of the kingdom to Solomon. David’s greatest desire was to see the temple built but that did no happen under David’s reign, it was built under Solomon’s. It was under Solomons’ reign that the Shekeinah glory filled the temple and the worshippers could not stand in the presence of God. 

Please know that I do not by any means compare myself to any these as they are so much greater than I am or could be, but this I pray, may God use this transition to bring greater things to this church. The new leader will come with fresh vision and a new sense of God’s will. He will love you and will be the catalyst for a new day for PCC and this community. I so look forward to hearing the reports of all that God is doing and how His will is being accomplished. 

With that said let me share a couple of things with you. First, know that we will be praying for you. We have already been praying for you and we will continue to pray for you. We will be praying for the growth of the body. We will be praying for greater things to come. We will be praying for God to do a new and exciting work in you and through you. My prayer is that He fill you with His grace and power. While we will be praying for you, I ask that you pray for us as we continue to seek God’s will and purpose in our life. There is power in prayer and by praying we are focused on the things of God. Prayer is the thing that will focus us on what God wants of us and how He wants us to live. So, pray for us and we will certainly be praying for you.

Secondly, the best days for PCC are still ahead. God will build on the past and I am sure that the future will look differently than anything we can picture now. God will bring you the right person at the right time so that God’s name is glorified and honored. After all this is God’s church. It has been God’s church and it continues to be God’s church. I so love the passage in Matthew that says that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. 

Third, continue to grow in Christ. Seek after God. Seek His will and His purposes so that you are enlarged in your spiritual experience. Draw closer to God. In this regard, I am like Paul, in the New Testament. I would count it a privilege to know and hear of your growth in Christ. Be passionate followers of Christ. Show the love of Christ to all you encounter. Dig into the word of God and make it your own so that you can share your life from the depths of what God has done in you. If I have made a difference in your life, it has been not because I am perfect or that I know it all, but that I have tried my best to be an example of Christ in all I do. I have tried to model for you what a true believer in Christ looks like so that what you see is Him and not me. 

Four, continue to grow in your relationship with one another. Grow in Christ, yes, but grow in your relationship with one another also. Continue to gather for fellowship. Continue to meet in the small groups. This church has so much to offer: Tuesday Men’s Group, Ladies Tuesday Study, BSF on Thursday, and the Ladies Thursday group. Continue to give and continue to be a part of Sunday Morning services. 

Fifth, when God brings you a new pastor love him and support him. Invite him to dinner or lunch. As you did nine years ago, when we arrived, show up and help him move. Pray for him and love him. As has been stated, previously, he will not be like me and that is a good thing. He will come with his experiences, his talents, his abilities, and his personality. He will come with his particular vision for ministry and he will have his own way of doing things but I know that he will lead you to a new day and a new vision. 

So as I close, may God bless you and keep you. We love you and we are grateful for your love for us and all that means. I am grateful for these nine years of ministry here and I am grateful for each of you and the blessing you have been to us. I close with the passage I began with. Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Let us pray.

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Trust in the Lord!

Peninsula Community Church 

September 15, 2019 

Psalm 37:1-6 Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

There is so much in life that brings us reason to give up and give in. There is so much that could give us a reason to throw our hands up and run and hide but that has never been the work of the Lord. It has never been the desire of God that this would be the way things would be. 

In verse 1, this passage begins with the idea that we are not to fret about things. The problem with worry and envy is that we give power to those things to control our life. We worry about things that do not matter. We envy what others have without recognizing what God has done in us. The outcome of worry and fretting is that we give power to those things and in so doing we allow them to control us. You may have experienced this. Someone says something to you. It may be just one word or phrase. But that one word or phrase sticks with us and we become focused on that and it becomes the focus of what we think about. 

I remember when I left for Bible College that my dad said to me. “Why do you want to go to college? Why don’t you stay home and work? Do what your brother is doing?” Those statements messed with my thinking and for years I felt that I did not have my dad’s blessing. For years I was trying get his blessing. I worked harder. I studied harder. I graduated with honors from Bible school. And yet I never seemed to please my dad. Those statements began to control my actions and they began to control my emotions. It wasn’t until I learned that I had to let go of those desires and attempt to please God because the reality was that I might never get my dad to believe in me. I was so relieved when I was able to let those words go and let God fill me with the assurance that He has it under control. 

The point is those words began to control me. They did not have to but they did. They did not have to push me down but they did. But when we take those thoughts captive and we judge them through the template of God’s grace and His mercy, we find that the words and actions of those around us do not have to hold us in bondage. The sad part is that later in life I found that my dad had always been proud of me. He just did not know how to communicate that. So, I spent years holding things that were not really true. 

That is why David so beautifully shares these words. That is why David lays out a plan for us to live effective, passionate, and committed lives. Notice that rather than fretting or worrying we should trust in the Lord. Trust is an amazing word. It is a word that is easier said and communicated than lived out. It is an action that is hard to define and enact because for us as believers it is hard to believe and hold onto what is not seen. It is hard to trust sometimes what we do not know. 

It is hard to trust God for tomorrow because we do not see tomorrow. When we made the decision to start this transition we knew there we would be so many unknowns. But that is where trust is best envisioned and that is where trust is best formulated for the life we need. When we trust God, we will begin to see how much we are blessed of God. That is why I love what Adrian Rogers has stated. I am too blessed to be stressed. He has suggested that the best way to look at this passage is to understand that the word trust means to be face down and have run out of all options, but it is here that you will trust the Lord as your only source and hope. I do not stress because, I am blessed by a heavenly Father that loves me immensely. 

That was the very basis for the beatitudes of the New Testament. Blessed are you when …… and you fill in the blank. Listen to Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:3-12. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

David in the passage before us today reminds us that we are called not only to trust the Lord but we are to do good. Most people withdraw or retreat when things get tough. They act of the hurt and the struggle, but that is not what the psalmist tells us to do. We are to move forward. We are continue to do what we know to do and do it well. Adrian Rogers suggests that God puts you in school. And God will keep you there until you pass the test. If you flunk out the first time, He will enroll you again. Therefore do good! Walk in righteousness even though you might have every reason not to do so. 

I love this next section. How wonderful it is to know that we can delight ourselves in the Lord. When your dreams, your hopes, and your thoughts about your future are dissolved, stop and delight yourself in the Lord. Here is what David says. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. When our dreams dissolve it is tempting to lose heart. It is tempting to fret and worry. Why is that? It is because our joy is threatened. The solution is to find a joy that cannot be threatened. That joy is only resourced by the Lord and is only found in the Lord. Corrie Ten Boom said, Look around and you’ll be distressed. Look within, and you’ll be depressed. Look to the Lord, and you’ll be at rest. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.

The idea suggested through this passage is that we make Jehovah, the Lord, the joy and rejoicing in our spirit. Think about this for a moment. If we remember that God is ours, there will be no incentive to worry or fret. To remember that God is ours and we are His means that we can trust Him and we can delight ourselves in the Lord.

The promise is that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart. But notice this, if our delight is in the Lord then we will not ask for anything that is opposed to His will or outside the bounds of His will and His purpose. We will delight in Biblical truth. We will delight in God’s promises. We will delight in God’s character and recognize that He loves us and cares deeply for us. 

It is here that David makes this powerful statement of hope. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. So let me ask you, when you feel threatened or life is fighting against you what do you do? When we have committed our way to the Lord, we do fret? We do not worry? We do not lose trust? I love this. four times in the New Testament we are told not to lose heart. And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1). Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:1). So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory (Ephesians 3:13). It has been suggested that the word here for “way” really means “lifestyle.” It carries the idea of a well traveled path. This means that we rest in the Lord. When we live a life filled with commitment to Christ we will rise above the fray and above the problems of life.

When we commit our ways to the Lord He will act on our behalf. I love what Psalm 55:22 says. Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. Solomon wrote, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones” (Proverbs 3:5-8).

When trials arise, do you run toward the Lord? Or do you try to handle things yourself? He who created you can handle any difficulty and pain, even when it seems overwhelming. What He desires is your surrender and trust. It is in His arms that you will find rest for your soul.

Are you delighted by God?  Do you take pleasure in God?  Are you satisfied with God?  Do you look to stand on what God has revealed about Himself in His Word. Do you delight in knowing Him?  Are you awestruck by His Will and Commands?  Do you see God as He is presented in the Scripture and desire Him? Do you want to know Him? Do you want to please Him? Do want to be satisfied with Him? Do you know there is and can never be anything or anyone greater?  Do you desire to do everything in your life to delight in God?

If you were given one choice, would you want God more than money, more than comfort, more than sex, more than security, more than praise, more than food, more than honor, more than ability, more than friends, more than family, and more than fame. If you had the choice between God and knowing Him and everything beautiful and pleasurable in all of Creation, would you choose God? I hope that you would. Let’s pray. 

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It’s a War Out There!

Peninsula Community Church

September 8, 2019

Daniel 10:11-14 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.”

Throughout history there have been many great battles. Many of these battles changed history and redirected the destiny of the world. When I think of great battles, I think of the battle of Waterloo, Gettysburg and Antietam in the Civil War, Yorktown in the Revolutionary war, Normandy in WWII, and many more. Yorktown was particularly interesting as this victory was won by a group of poorly organized and untrained men who had an overwhelming desire to achieve freedom for the fledgling nation called America. Their enemy was more powerful and better equipped but they won because they had heart and they had vision. 

As we look at this part of Daniel’s story we find that it is really a story about spiritual warfare and victory that comes from God alone. As we review the story, we understand this is truly God’s story. As I have noted so many times before, the Bible is a story of God’s redemption. While Daniel is just one of the characters God used to bring about the vision of redemption for those in captivity, it was really God’s story. God’s plan had always been to redeem Israel and He was using Daniel to set the stage for that work. Prophetically, God had promised Israel that they would return to Jerusalem and that Jerusalem would be restored as a city and Israel as a nation.

As we pick up this story, we find that Daniel had been praying. He had been praying persistently. He had been praying defiantly. He had been praying confidently. He had faith in His God and He trusted God big time. The problem however is that Daniel was not getting an answer to his prayer. He had prayed and nothing was happening. For many of us we might have given up, but Daniel did not. He continued to pray, and he continued to reach out to God. He trusted God more than anything else or anyone else. His trust was not in his prayers but in the God to whom he was praying. He knew that God would answer in His time and in His way.

At this point in the story, we find that the angel of God appears. Although Gabriel is not directly mentioned in this particular verse, there is an assumption that this was Gabriel as he was the angel God sent to deliver critical messages. Also, we believe this is Gabriel because we find that Gabriel was quick to attend to Daniel’s need in Daniel 9:21. It is noteworthy that the name Gabriel means “God is my strength.” The angel speaks and the words he speaks are powerful and important. The message he shares is a message for us today as much as it was in Daniel’s day.

Notice the first words spoken by Gabriel. Gabriel says that Daniel is greatly loved. He is not just loved, he is greatly loved. Gabriel communicated God’s love for Daniel. God always wanted the best for Daniel in every area of his life, including answered prayer. In this communication, Gabriel is saying that the reason for the unanswered pray is not that Daniel was not loved, but rather that God had a plan for Daniel and the answer had already been set in motion. Too often the enemy makes us believe that because we do not hear from God, we are somehow not loved by God. We can feel forgotten when our prayers are not answered.

Gabriel speaks words of life to Daniel. He let him know that his prayers were being answered. His prayer had already been answered, but the answer was being detained. Notice that Gabriel gave two reasons for the answer to prayer and he gave one reason why the prayer was delayed. The reason Daniel’s prayer was being answered is that Daniel had set his heart to understand and that he humbled himself. His prayer was being held up because there was a battle in heaven.

One of the things that is acknowledged by Gabriel is that Daniel had an understanding of faith and the power of prayer. There is much in life that we do not understand but that must not stop us from praying. How refreshing it is to know that God wants us to understand Him and His word. There is nothing more confusing and heartbreaking than not understanding what God wants from us or being confused about His purpose for our life. Daniel was experiencing dreams and He had been placed before the king at this time to be a servant of the Kingdom of God. Daniel needed understanding and he prayed for that. 

It is also noteworthy that Gabriel praises Daniel for his humility. Daniel had executed a level of humility that had not gone unnoticed by God. The truth is no one else sees or knows our heart, but God sees us and He knows us. He knows our attitude and He knows our heart. He sees us and knows us better than we know ourselves. Many times we are judged and criticized by others but God judges the heart because He knows us and He knows our every thought. 

Know this, God hears our prayers as soon as we pray them even though we do not readily see the answer. We have also been assured through Scripture that God knows our needs before we ask (Matthew 6:8). Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. You see the Pharisees believed that number of words, the repetition of words, and length of one’s prayer would get God’s attention. While that was their belief, the best way to pray is through humility of heart and honesty before God. 

So often God is working behind the scenes and is accomplishing a great work that will be manifested through us and on our behalf. He is at work when it seems that things are dark and we are struggling. God never sleeps nor does He slumber. We need to understand that when we pray God hears our prayer, but sometimes there is a battle that erupts and the answer seems to be afar off. The battle which began in heaven and was reinvigorated in Genesis 3 is still being waged today. It is a battle of what our view of God will be like. That is one of the greatest battles we will face. Does our view of God change when we do not see prayer answered? If our view of God is distorted through unanswered prayer, the enemy of our souls will work overtime to stop our prayers from being answered. He knows that in so doing too many times we will turn from God as our source and provider.

When we pray, sometimes the answer seems to avoid us. There are many reasons for this. Sometimes our prayers are not answered because there is sin in our hearts. When there is unconfessed sin, God is not obligated to answer our prayers. He will answer, but He is not obligated. Sometimes our prayers are not answered because we are asking from the wrong motivation. That is what sin does. It leads us to ask with the wrong motivation in our hearts. James 4:3 states“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

Sometimes our prayers are not answered because of relational issues. Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7). This does not mean that we are responsible for the way our wives or others for that matter act, but we are responsible for how we love our wives and how we love others. When we do not honor our spouses, God is not obligated to answer our prayers. 

And then there are times when our prayers are not answered because there is a battle being waged. This is what happened to Daniel. He prayed and his prayer was delayed. Notice that Daniel was not even aware of the battle, but it was happening none-the-less. God is fighting on our behalf even when we do not see it or realize it. This battle was taking place in the heaven-lies. For twenty-one days Michael the Archangel was doing battle on Daniel’s behalf. He was fishing on Daniel’s behalf and he won. Here is the deal, if you are a child of God you need to know that God is fighting for you. He is dispatching His angels on your behalf to conquer what you face. It may take a day. It may take a week. It may take 21 days. It may take a month. What matters is that we keep praying and in due time God will bring the answer we need. 

That is why Paul could says For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).

This passage is critical for us. Notice the words here. “I have come because of your words.” Put that together with the words in verse 11: “I have been sent to you.” The point is that God answered Daniel’s prayer as soon as he began to pray three weeks before. From the first day Daniel humbled himself before God, his words were heard. The bottom line is that Gabriel had come to Daniel because of Daniel’s words or in other words his prayers. Know this, you are important to God and He is answering your prayers. You might not see an answer right away. You might be losing hope, but keep praying. Keep holding on. God is working on your behalf. He may have even dispatched angels to fight for you but He is working and His purposes will be accomplished. Let us pray. 

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The God of Miracles

Peninsula Community Church 

September 1, 2019 

Daniel 6:19-22 Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.”

As we begin this study, today, let me ask you a question. Have you ever experienced a real, true, genuine miracle? When I talk about a miracle, I am talking about much more than finding a good parking place at the mall, although that might be a real miracle, especially at Christmas. I am not talking about going to your favorite restaurant and finding out that you are getting the last serving of your favorite meal before they run out. I am talking about a full fledge no holds barred miracle. You see the word miracle has been abused much like the word love. In both cases, the power and majesty of the words have been lost or diminished.

Today, I want to assure you that miracles still happen and they can happen in your life. Before we get into the meat of the message, let me take a moment and define what a miracle is. The Bible does not use the word miracle too often, but when a miracle happens in Scripture there is no denying it and no mistaking it. The dictionary defines a miracle as a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable (understood) by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency. Baker’s Dictionary of the Bible defines a miracle as “an event in the external world brought about by the immediate agency or the simple volition of God.” A miracle is not limited to the laws of matter or the mind, as a miracle interrupts fixed natural laws. C. S. Lewis defines a “miracle” as an interference with nature by a supernatural power.

Take creation for example. God supernaturally speaks the world into existence out of nothing. That is a miracle. By His words we have the earth, a miracle. The seas, oceans and land are divided, a miracle. We have birds, flora and fauna, and all sorts of creatures created, a miracle. We have the days measured by the sun and moon, a miracle. We have the complexity of humankind, a miracle. The truth is miracles always point to God as the instigator and provider. He steps outside of the boundaries of the natural and provides something that could not be provided or explained by any other means. 

Today, many are attempting to discredit the Bible by trying to explain the miracles of the Bible by way of natural means. Such miracles as creation, the parting of the Red Sea, the Virgin birth, the resurrection, and so on are all being tested by those who would seek explainable reasoning to define the miracles of the Bible. Here is the deal though, sometimes there is no explanation and no reason, that is why it is a miracle. 

Our story today is one more of God’s story where God brings a miraculous intervention on behalf of His children. In this case it was Daniel, the faithful and dedicated servant of God. When we read the first part of the story, we find Daniel is accepted by Darius, but is being setup by Darius’ cohorts. They were conniving in order to attack and destroy Daniel. They falsely accused him and when their accusations did not stick, they went after the one thing that defined Daniel the most, his faith in God. They in fact created a conflict that needed to be resolved. And of course they were the ones who had to resolve the problem. Please know that when people cannot attack your character they will try to attack you where it hurts the most. They will attack your beliefs and they will attack your family. When that fails they will create conflict. 

In their conniving, they tricked Darius into signing a 30 day decree that anyone making a petition of prayer would be cast into the lion’s den, where they would be eaten alive. Notice there was no command to worship Darius or any other God. They were not to pray. Does this sound familiar? Prayer is being removed from the public square in our day. The enemy of our souls knows that without prayer we become weak and easily persuaded to compromise and change. However, after the decree was given, notice that Daniel did not hesitate to continue to pray three times a day. You see laws can change, decrees can be made but remember you cannot legislate righteousness and obedience. We must be obedient to God, no matter the cost or the price. The secret is that when we are obedient and we are faithful, God comes through big time in big ways. What did Daniel do, he worshipped and he prayed? He could have played games, but he chose God and he chose faithfulness to his faith in God. 

This reminds me of Romans 12:2. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Daniel did not conform to the world’s standard just to fit in, but he renewed his mind by going to God in prayer. Daniel did not conform to the ways of Babylon or the edicts of the king. He stayed true to the commands of God. You shall have no other gods before me. He loved God more than he loved being accepted by those who were godless. He trusted God more than he trusted the king’s advisors. Note that it is by testing that we discern the will of God. In testing our faith is assured. If we allow it, God shows us His will and what is right and is good.

Because he did not obey the edict, he was thrown into the lion’s den. The fact is when one was thrown into the lion’s den those days, the lions were often starved for days before hand. In this way, they were ready to devour whatever was thrown into the den. But instead of attacking him, a miracle took place. Rather than devouring Daniel, God shut their mouths so that he would not be eaten alive. What was a natural occurrence, being eaten by the lions, was instead a supernatural intervention and the mouths of the lions were shut so they would not harm Daniel!

Here is the amazing thing about this miracle. God not only saved Daniel, but God used that miracle to reach those who were engaged in the process of putting him in the lion’s den. An amazing thing happened when Darius returned to the lion’s den. Darius realized that God had saved Daniel and he wanted what Daniel had. Let me ask you this morning, when you go through deep difficulties and people witness you doing so, how do they respond? Do they turn to God or witness God doing something amazing or do you they turn from God because of your experience? You see that we can experience the miracles of God and yet still complain and grumble which diminishes the world’s view of God. In this case, because of the testimony of Daniel, Darius turned toward God. That was the second miracle. But notice what Daniel did. Rather than take any of the credit, he turned all of the praise and honor back to God. Notice that he stated “My God sent his angel and shut the lion’s mouths.” He gave credit where credit was due because he could take no credit for the work of God.

I love this. Listen to Daniel 6:21-23 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

Notice the third part of this miracle. Notice how God defended Daniel. Those who had connived with Darius to make this happen were thrown into the lion’s den. Their entire family were thrown in and they were immediately devoured. God protects His people. God saves those who trust in Him no matter what. Daniel trusted God and God came through big time. 

As a result, Darius made a proclamation to the people in Daniel 6:25-27. Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.” 

As we close, listen to this. If God could close the mouths of lions for Daniel, part the Red Sea for Moses (Exodus 14:21), make the sun stand still for Joshua (Joshua 10:12-14), send ravens to feed Elijah (1 Kings 17:2-16), open a prison door for Peter (Acts 16:26), put a baby boy in the arms of Sarah (Genesis 21:2), and raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11:38-44) then He can certainly provide for you. You have no reason to despair or be hopeless today. Nothing you are facing today is too hard for Him to handle. Trust Him to take care of you, just like He took care of everyone that came before you. Remember the great cloud of witnesses in Hebrews (Hebrews 12:1-2). They are watching us. They are cheering us on. They have experienced the miracles of God and today they stand as a testimony to what God can do with the man whose heart is fully devoted to Him. 

So, let me ask you, what is your lion’s den? You may be facing some difficult times. You may feel betrayed and wounded. You may have had someone come against you and spread lies about who you are. You may be faced with having to hold onto your convictions in your workplace. What is your lion’s den? You can go quiet, blend in, compromise, or you can stand firm regardless of the consequences. When you choose to stand, you are choosing what’s harder. You are choosing the lion’s den. And that is okey because in this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, God has overcome the world (John 16:33). God will save you and He will protect you. Trust  Him! Give Him the credit He deserves! Amen!

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Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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