I have been on many safaris in Africa and it is always special to see a lion, male or female. In South Africa once, I was put into a cage with five or six lion cubs, and they were afraid of me. Truth be told, I was a little afraid of them, too. I picked them up and tried to hold them as they clawed and squirmed their way back to the ground. They were powerful, even though they were only as big as a house cat. It was a memorable experience. I remember smelling their breath and wondering what they would smell like when they were older.
We have been studying Daniel the last few weeks and he is a fascinating study in purpose. Daniel was taken from his home, sent to Babylon, promoted in Babylon, demoted in Babylon and then promoted again. As we read last week:
Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, "We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God" (Daniel 6:3-5).
This set the stage for one of Daniel's most famous trials when he was thrown to the lions. He spent the night so close to those lions that he also could smell their breath and they his. Yet even though Daniel spent the night with those lions, he came out smelling like a rose.
As it goes on in Daniel 6, those against Daniel had the king pass a law that outlawed any prayer to anyone except the king for a period of time. Of course, Daniel did not honor this law, but kept right on praying as was his custom. What's more, he did not hide the fact that he prayed, but rather did it publicly and openly.
When the king was confronted with this fact, he had no choice but to follow through with the punishment he had set. Daniel had to be thrown to the lions.
So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions' den. The king said to Daniel, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!"A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel's situation might not be changed. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep (Daniel 6:16-18).
Daniel was so faithful and valuable an employee that the king could not eat or sleep and actually prayed to Daniel's God for Daniel's protection. When is the last time your pagan boss lost any sleep over your well-being? When has someone you have served prayed for your safety and protection? Such was Daniel's value that his rivals hated him but the king loved and honored him.
THE MORNING AFTER
After a sleepless night, the king ran to Daniel's den:
At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions' den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?"Daniel answered, "O king, live forever! 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."The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God (Daniel 6:19-23).
I want to be like Daniel when I grow up and pass every test like he did! I want to serve the king and be found innocent when charged with corruption! It is never a surprise or coincidence when someone like Daniel succeeds, and your success won't be an accident either. If you know your purpose, serve faithfully and maintain your integrity, there isn't a king or lion in this world who can stop God from promoting you. If you are in your own lions' den as you read this, don't panic. God will protect and rescue you and, when He does, you will be even more effective than you were before. Have a great week as you serve God and man with excellence and integrity, and come out smelling like a rose no matter how severely you are tested!
KENYA UPDATE: I have posted an update on our library projects in Kenya in this week's update. Please read these touching notes, and then give a Thanksgiving offering toward those who have so little. You can give by clicking on the red button, or by sending a tax-deductible contribution to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you!
CHRISTMAS IS COMING: My daily devotionals make excellent gifts that keep giving every day of the year. Check out these titles and then order yours today: