Placed For Purpose: The Lions Den
Recordings, notes and application questions
Each week, we produce notes, discussion points and application questions for the Sunday talks — helping you go deeper into everything we’re looking at together and resourcing our Small Groups during the week. Our current series explores the life of Daniel, and how he lives in a place of exile knowing that he is uniquely placed to know, enjoy and reveal God. Use the embedded player to listen to the talk, or click here to visit Soundcloud and download it on a PC.
- Daniel 6
Notes: The Lions Den
Trials of many kinds can come upon us without warning in life. We tend naturally to think that they must be outside of the will of God, indicating a problem that we must work to resolve in order to see an end to the trial. Yet, the Bible shows us again and again that God’s gracious and kind purposes are often worked out through trials and sufferings. His plans are worked out even in the moments when it feels as though life has fallen apart (like going from the success and influence Daniel had, to being thrown in the lions den). Though for Daniel it must have been confusing, distressing and frightening, he found that God was with Him in the midst of that trial in a unique and powerful way. The trial was the context for meeting mightily with God and seeing His faithfulness revealed. Perhaps you are experiencing trials and cannot understand where they have come from. Know this, God is with you and his purposes for you are always good — not just for you, but also for those around you! There are a number of particular things we can learn from this story:
Enjoy the Big Story
- The story of Daniel is the story of Jesus, an faultless life lived, a righteous man unjustly condemned in a conspiracy, sealed away in what was thought to be his tomb with a stone rolled in front.
- Yet Jesus, unlike Daniel, dies — taking upon himself the punishment that in Daniel’s story the conspirators bear, and taking upon himself EVERY act of conspiracy that I and you have ever wrought against God; every moment we’ve put ourselves at the centre and cast Him and others aside for our own good.
- To prove it, God lifts Jesus from the tomb and seats him in a place of power and authority (just as happens to Daniel at the end of his story), in order that word might go out to all that God is the living God, whose Kingdom has no end, who rescues and saves (Daniel 6:26–27)
Seek Influence, not Power
- It’s crucial that we distinguish between these two: Power is the ability to make someone else do something they don’t want to do; Influence is where you are able to appeal to someone to change how they think about something. Power forces someone to do something, influence shows them why it’s necessary.
- Like Daniel, we’re to seek influence for the good of the city and those around us, not power for the sake of pleasure, position or prestige.
- We see the impact of those who seek power for their own good all around us in the world today (poverty, racism, sexual abuse), and it’s vital that in our individual actions and in the systems and structures we build, we ensure the vulnerable are protected and that all can flourish for the good of one another.
Persist in Prayer
- Daniel values prayer more than life — he grows into the meaning of his name (Daniel = “God is my Judge”) as one who values what God thinks and does more than what anyone else things and does.
- This drives him to disciplined prayer. We can too often allow a fear of legalism to stop us from pursuing discipline in the spiritual rhythms of our life, but what we see in the lives of many people in the Bible (including Jesus), is that discipline in prayer, fasting and study bears much fruit.
- “Discipline is not the boring substitute for spontaneity and power but the garden where it grows” — John Piper
- Daniel was totally faultless in all the he did in his public and private life, and yet he was still opposed. We too should expect this, but not fear it — even in that place God has purpose for us.
- This story points us back to the perfect life Jesus lived, and the perfect death he died, in order that through him, a place might be created where we can know forgiveness, healing, restoration, hope and joy, even in the midst of trials and suffering.
- We are giving ourselves to creating a community of transparency and honesty, where we can bear our brokenness knowing it doesn’t disqualify us. We get to stand with one another, speak truth to one another, and life one another up, just as Jesus is continually doing. He is with us in our own lions dens, whatever they may be.
- Culture is constantly telling a story to people about the ‘big story’ of the world and their place in it — a story that says you must have success and fame and beauty and power and wealth, and that even if you do get those, your life is ultimately meaningless; here today and gone tomorrow.
- We are called to be those who tell a better story, who speak a better word, through how we live and speak. We’re to live lives of kingdom influence (integrity, winsomeness, courage, community, humility and dependence upon God) which create opportunities to tell people about Jesus.
- It isn’t just enough to live “a good life”. The gospel is good news, and like all news, it needs to be told through both our words and deeds.
- What struck you most from Sunday’s talk?
- How are you enjoying the Daniel series so far? What has stood out to you?
- What does it look like for you to exercise influence to seek the good of others at home / at work / in community / at church?
- What does prayer look like for you at the moment?
- What rhythms or disciplines might help you grow in prayer life? How can we encourage one another in this?
- What trials and suffering are you experiencing at the moment? How can we stand with one another in the midst of those?
- How are you doing living out a life of kingdom influence, demonstrating integrity, winsomeness, courage, community, humility and dependence upon God? Which of those do you think you need to grow into, and what steps can you take to help do that?
- What opportunities do you have in your daily life to tell a different story than the story culture is telling?