When I was first asked to preach again, I was very honoured, and pleased as I already had something prepared to share. I asked our Elder if there was any specific theme, and she advised to just pray to The Lord and go with it. This is it, I thought, I can realise this topic that I’ve been working on. That night, I prayed very considerately and God led me to:

Daniel 6: The Den of Lions – not what I was going to talk about at all!

I’m sure we’re all very familiar with the story, but to summarise :

Through a life of hard work and obedience to God, Daniel had risen through the political ranks as an administrator of the kingdom.In fact, Daniel was so honest and hardworking that the other government officials–who were jealous of him–could find nothing to remove him from office.

So they tried to use Daniel’s faith in God against him. They tricked King Darius into passing a decree that during a 30-day period, anyone who prayed to another god or man besides the king would be thrown into the lions’ den.

Daniel learned of the decree but did not change his habit. Just as he had done all his life, he went home, knelt down, faced Jerusalem, and prayed to God. He dared to be different.

The wicked administrators caught him and told the king. Darius, who loved Daniel, tried to save him, but the decree could not be revoked. At sundown, they threw Daniel into the den of lions. The king could not eat or sleep all night. At dawn he ran to the lions’ den and asked Daniel if his God had protected him. Daniel replied,

“My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.” (Daniel 6:22, NIV)

Scripture says the king was overjoyed. Daniel was brought out, unharmed, “…because he had trusted in his God.” (Daniel 6:23, NIV). King Darius had the men arrested who falsely accused Daniel, and along with their wives and children, they were all thrown into the lions’ den, where they were immediately killed by the beasts.Then the king issued another decree, ordering the people to fear and reverence the God of Daniel. Through Daniels daring, the glory of God was revealed.

What did The Lord want me to learn from this? After much more prayer, I believe he was telling me to stand out, to dare to be different. This is something I have struggled with in the past. Although I may come across as confident, I do suffer from almost debilitating shyness and have been loathe to push myself forward. I feel that with this lesson, The Lord is encouraging me to be bold and courageous in His mighty name. And I hope to encourage you also.

Because Daniel’s ways were different to their ways, he was condemned, through trickery, by those jealous of his standing in the kings sight. Those ministers could find no way to discredit Daniel, so they focused on the thing that made him stand out; his faith and commitment to God. We have that same commitment to God, dont we? So do we stand out? Do those around us know us for our faith?

Some time ago, I posted to Facebook how proud I was to be a Christian and I received a postivie response from a work colleague, who had been a Christian for 3 years – and I had no idea! When did Christians start hiding who they are – especially in this country? The confidence that God has given me provides the strength to talk to others about my faith. I’ll never be a “bash you over the head with a Bible” kind of girl, but it is important that we spread the good news. As disciples of Christ, it is our duty and privelage to do so every time an opportunity presents itself. Do you? Or do you initiate the chance to promote your faith?

How are you going to demonstrate your commitment this week? What are you going to do that will make people notice your God-given difference? When will you stand out?

Perhaps, if you are vocal about your faith, it might be time to try something different and show your faith through your actions instead, without seeking recognition. If you are the quiet one, maybe you could have a gentle discussion with a friend, neighbour or colleague about your faith and why its important to you. If you usually hold back in a situation, try stepping forward. Could you offer an out-loud prayer for someone? Could you take an action for God that shows to all around that you belong to The Lord? Be different; stand out – and be prepared for your own “lions”. Do not be afraid.

The most commonly repeated phrase in the whole Bible, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, is “Have no fear!” or “Do not be afraid

Exodus 14: 13 Do not be afraid; stand firm

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous; Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you; nor forsake you

Psalm 27: 1 The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life -of whom shall I be afraid?

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear; for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.

We move into the New Testament:

Mark 5:36 Dont be afraid; just believe

Hebrews 13: 6 The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid

1 Peter 3:14 Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated

2 Timothy 1; 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power;

1 John 4: 18 “perfect love drives out fear”

Fear influences our actions more than we would like; fear of doing the wrong thing, fear of being ridiculed; fear of the unknown. Get rid of your fears; fear of failure, fear of being unworthy, fear of rejection. Not only will God give you success, He will give you the skill & strength to handle it.

Dare to be different Be bold, be courageous. Feel the fear ……. but do it anyway and remember “fear is temporary, regret is forever”.

Thats our challenge for the week – stand out and do something different. I dare you.

SJF Aug 2015