Part seven of our series, "Kingdoms In Conflict: A Study of the Book of Daniel."
1. How is the life of following God “a long obedience in the same direction”?
2. What does it mean to live as a pilgrim and a disciple?
A life of excellence in service
Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. -Daniel 6:3
1. Why do the way that we work and our attitude toward our work matter to God?
2. What do you find difficult about seeing your work, whatever it might be, as service to the Lord?
3. What could it actually look like to go about your work, social life, other stations of life for the glory of God?
4. How can the way we live spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ?
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 2 Corinthians 2:14
A life of conviction and integrity
Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. -Daniel 6:4
1. Where in your personal and professional life is there temptation to violate your Christian convictions? What keeps you strong in temptation? When/why are you more susceptible to giving in?
2. What do you consider a life of integrity? How do our lives sometimes fail to match up with who we claim to be and what we claim to believe?
3. In our sinful world and personal imperfection, what does it mean to live an upright and blameless life?
4. What daily practices will help us grow in conviction and integrity?
Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out. -Proverbs 10:9
A life of relentlessly seeking God
When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. -Daniel 6:10-11
1. What does our prayer life indicate about our level of dependence on God?
2. How does God mature us in discipleship through prayer?
3. What is typically the content of your prayers? Is there a balance of thanksgiving, petition and plea?
4. Do you have set disciplines to foster growth in your knowledge of God and delight in Him, or does “drifting” more accurately describe your spiritual life?
“One aspect of [our] world that I have been able to identify as harmful to Christians is that anything worthwhile can be acquired at once. We assume that if something can be done at all, it can be done quickly and efficiently…There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.” -Eugene Peterson.
Trust in the saving power of a faithful God
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. -Daniel 6:21-23
1. Where have you seen the faithfulness of God at work in the book of Daniel so far?
2. What does it mean that Daniel was rescued from harm because he was found blameless before God, had done no harm to the king, and had trusted in his God?
3. How would you encourage someone who is struggling through a difficult season and is calling out to God, but their circumstance doesn’t seem to be changing?
4. How does God’s promise to save all who trust in Him give you confidence and hope for life today?
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,
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.” -Daniel 6:26-27
For prayer and reflection:
At the end of your life, what would you like your legacy to be? What would you consider a faithful and fruitful life in service to God? What do you need to do now to start cultivating that? What areas of your life do you need to recognise as areas God has placed you in for His glory? Where have your personal and private life not matched up? Are there sinful thoughts or habits that you have allowed to creep in that need to be killed before they grow? As the Spirit leads, write down practical, intentional actions you are going to put in place starting now. Share them with someone and commit them to the Lord in prayer. It is not about performance or trying to earn favour with God, every one of us falls short in this. Daniel was powerless to save himself from the lions, completely dependent on the mercy of God, as we are powerless to save ourselves from sin and death. It is all of grace. Be encouraged as you take steps walking forward in greater faithfulness to God, knowing that His grace is sufficient in our weakness. Persevere knowing that in life and death He will never leave your side, and take courage knowing that He, the founder and perfector of our faith, the one who began a good work in [us] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Phil.1:6). He is the living God, the King on the throne of the Kingdom that will endure forever, and He welcomes us to be part of that Kingdom – Glory to God!
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God… Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:1-2, 12-14