Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

08/20/2017 A.M.

 

Contemplating Integrity

Daniel 6.1-23

 

Toward the end of the 19th century, an elderly man and his wife arrived by train in Chicago. It was a stormy night... Their train had been delayed so it was well after midnight when they arrived at a downtown hotel they hoped would have a vacancy.

 

The young clerk on duty that night was a man named George Boldt... He explained to the weary travelers that there were three different conventions in town and his hotel was full… But that he would be glad to call around and check with some other hotels.

 

However... After several calls... It became clear that there were no empty rooms to be found. The young clerk said... I can’t send a couple like you out on a night like this. Would you be willing to sleep in my room in the basement? It’s not large... But it’s clean and I don’t need it... I’m on duty all night. Tired from their journey… The couple gladly accepted his offer.

 

The next morning the man tried to pay George personally... But the young clerk refused. Then the man said to George Boldt... You’re the kind of man who ought to be the boss of the best hotel in America. Maybe one day I’ll build you one... The young clerk only smiled and said... I’m just glad to be of service.

 

Several years later George Boldt received a letter and a train ticket inviting him to come to New York City. When George arrived in the... BigApple... The old gentleman he had put up in his room took him to the corner of 5th Avenue and 54th Street in Manhattan and said... This is the hotel I have built for you to manage. George Boldt stared in awe and said... Are you joking?

 

It was no joke. You see... The old man’s name was William Waldorf Astor. And that’s how George Boldt became the first manager of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. His portrait hangs in the lobby... As a man of integrity.

 

A man who was... Pure in heart... Transparent... Right minded...Right motived. His heart and his behavior were on the same track... And it prompted him to go the second mile.

 

Daniel chapter six gives us another glimpse of INTEGRITY...

Daniel was a teenager… Perhaps no more than eighteen when taken from Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 605 B.C. He was probably from an upper-class family in Jerusalem… When he was placed in special training to be a servant in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar.

 

By the time we get to the Daniel chapter six... He has already seen enough for two lifetimes!

 

• He’s experienced the tragic fall of a nation… The burning of Jerusalem… The destruction of Solomon’s Temple.

• Transported from the Promised Land to a Foreign Country.

• He’s been offered food from the King’s training table... Turned it down... And been blessed for his faith... And living up to his convictions.

• He’s seen and interpreted a dream that foretold the coming of the Lord’s Church and its impending impact and eternal longevity.

• He witnessed One who looked like the Son of God rescue his three Jewish brothers from a Fiery Furnace.

• He’s watched a King eating grass like an animal because of his haughtiness.

• He has outlived King Nebuchadnezzarand saw his son... Belshazzar take the throne.

• He watched as the finger of God wrote on the wall of Belshazzar’s doom.

• Daniel witnessed the sunset of the Great Babylon Kingdom and the dawning of the Medo Persian Empire.

• Now... King Darius is on the throne...This Darius is really King Cyrus... Darius was a general title given to Persian Rulers... The word means Owner of the Scepter... So there were several Persian Rulers called Darius... This Darius refers to Cyrus the Great the ruler who eventually allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem.

• This meant that Daniel served as a trusted advisor to three kings... He is now an octogenarian... Well into his eighties.

 

Because Daniel had made a lifetime of wise choices…

He was known by all as A man of integrity.

 

Now…King Darius has appointed 120 Governors... Called Satraps.

Over these 120 he appointed three rulers... One of whom was Daniel.

Daniel then... As always seemed to happen... rose to the top of these three and Darius was considering making him ruler over everything.

 

As we might expect... Jealousy developed... Especially considering the fact that Daniel was a foreigner... A Jew in a Gentile world.  The other two rulers tried to dig up some dirt on Daniel... Some ways in which he had failed to submit to Darius… But of course they failed… They could find nothing.

 

In light of Daniel’s integrity and their determination to destroy him... They planned another approach... An appeal to King Darius’ ego. 

 

They began their plan in Daniel 6.7... The idea was to make Darius... God for a month.... Read verse 7... The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the King should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days... except to you, O king... Shall be thrown into the lions’ den.

 

And for good measure... They made this a law accordingto the Medes and Persians… Which meant it was IRREFUTABLE... Even by the King.

 

They knew Daniel’s habit of praying to God three times a day… So they watched. Daniel knew the law... But as usual…integrity prompted his prayer. 

 

The jealous governors were waiting and took him to the King.  Upon realizing what had happened... Darius was deeply saddened at his ownfoolishness… For falling into this deceptive trap… But reluctantly had to punish Daniel.

 

After placing Daniel in the Lions’ Den… Darius spent a sleepless night... Concerned for his friend and advisor’s safety...The King checks on Daniel at first light.

 

Verse 20 beginning... 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 for ever! 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.”

 

Upon finding his respected friend and advisor safe...He commanded that the men who had tried to have Daniel killed have the same punishment inflicted on them. They were thrown into the lions’ den... And their bodies were consumed immediately.

 

So....What does this narrative have to do with us as God’s Children today?

 

I think… It’s easy to do right in the church… It’s easy to do what’s right when we know other Christians are… Watching us… Supporting us… Encouraging us.  But integrity, Biblical integrity is what we are… in the dark… when we’re alone.

 

Character is made up of the choices we make when no one can see us!

 

Consider this… What if a foreign power took over in our country?  What if their army broke in here this morning…Held a gun to our head and told us they would kill us unless we denied Christ?... What would we do?... What would you do?

 

I have little doubt that we believe if we were called upon to lay down our lives in sacrifice for our faith in God... We would do it!

 

But those moments rarely come this way… Instead… Satan is crafty...

We are called to give our life in small increments...

• we’re asked to become god’s INSTRUMENt of righteousness....

• His living sacrifice... Daily… Moment-by-moment... This may be more difficult than giving our life in onetime martyrdom.

 

In some ways… Becoming a daily Living sacrifice… making right choices… Maintaining our integrity day-in-and-day-out… Can become more difficult than offering ourselves as a onetime sacrifice.

 

Here it is church… Satan is a roaring lion…

we too are in a lions’ den.

How do we maintain our integrity living in today’s culture?

Let’s see what we might learn…

 

We must maintain an excellent spirit within.

 

Verse three reads… 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.

 

The New American Standard… And our King James says… He had… an exceptional… an extraordinary… Spirit Within.

 

Daniel 1.8 gives us Daniel’s purpose statement…When he was but a teenager…

Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.

 

Daniel was a man of integrity... Meaning that he was… COMPLETE… HONEST… Pure hearted... Transparent... Right minded... Right motived… Without hypocRISY.

 

Let’s consider two things on how to maintain an extraordinary spirit within…

 

First… Keep a good spirit in times of adversity… If anybody had a reason to have a… Bitter… Cynical…Poor Me… Critical… Pessimistic… spirit… It was Daniel.

 

Here’s a man who has spent his entire life away from…

• Country…

• Family…

• Friends…

• And his church… The Temple. 

Yet his outlook was not one of bitter complaints but of an excellent spirit... Integrity! The Hebrew word translated… Excellent… Can also be translated extraordinary.

 

Some of us have had a hard life…

• Some have suffered unfairly… Have been mistreated by… Parents… Bosses… Family… and Friends…

• Some have suffered extreme health issues…

• Others have suffered losses of… Jobs…Houses… Cars… Etc…

• Some have gone through bankruptcy…Lost everything.

• Others have lost parents and children in death…

Yet have kept a good spirit… An extraordinary spirit… An excellent spirit... It’s called integrity!

 

I don’t know how Daniel kept an excellent spirit through all his trials… But he did!

 

Perhaps Paul has the answer when he tells us to… Be thankful always… Rejoice… And again I say rejoice.

 

I think Paul is saying… If we’ll not dwell on our troubles… But count our blessing instead… We’ll be able to rejoice and be thankful people… Amen.

 

Jesus tells us… When life tumbles in… When trouble comes…

• Let not your heart be troubled…

• Believe in Me..

• Remember that God is your Abba Father…

• Remember this is not all there is to life and living…

• Know that Heaven is your destination…

 

Church...We don’t have to become… Hard... Ugly… Sour… Bitter… Cantankerous People… We can have a good spirit… We can be like Daniel.

 

Secondly… Don’t give into the ageing process.

At this point… Daniel is getting older… In his eighties. 

As we grow older… We must watch ourselves that we don’t develop…

• A bitter…

• Pessimistic…

• Gloomy…

• Cynical

• Critical… Spirit.

It’s easy for us to lose our integrity and take on a victim mentality.

 

It’s easy for us to decide that we’ve done our part in God’s Kingdom Work… And that we have the option to step aside…

 

I gotta tell you Satan is in this kind of thinking… There’s nothing in Scripture that gives us the right to think in these terms… To think I can quit my Kingdom Service.

 

In fact just the opposite… Paul is found saying… Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

 

Douglas McArthur had this plaque on his wall...“Youth is not a time of life... It’s a state of mind…”

• Grandma Moses was still painting when she was 101.

• Picasso was still painting at 91.

• Oliver Wendell Holmes was still serving on the United States Supreme Court at 90.

• Konrad Adenauer was still Chancellor of West Germany at 87.

• Noah Webster was 70 when he published his dictionary.

• The Roman statesman and philosopher Cato learned to speak and write Greek at age 80.

• Golda Meir became Prime Minister of Israel when she was 71.

• Brother Paul Southern of Abilene Christian University was still teachingcollege in his 90s.

• Tillit S. Teddlie was still writing church music and preaching when he died at 101.

• Mother Teresa died serving others at age 87.

• God called Abraham from the land of the Chaldeans at age 75.

• The Apostle John wrote that great Apocalypse that closes our Bible when he was close to 100.

• Joshua and Caleb did their best work upon entering the Promise Land at age 85.

• God ask Noah to build an ark when he was four-hundred years old.

• Moses was eighty when he led Israel out of Egypt... His life was two-thirds gone when he encountered the burning bush.

 

Here’s something for us to think about… It’s been found that... Of the 400 greatest achievements of mankind...

• 64% were accomplished by people over sixty...

• 35% were accomplished by people between sixty and seventy...

• And 23% were accomplished by those between seventy and eighty years old.

 

EltonTrueblood tells the story of his mother having new carpet put in her apartment... insisting the company giving her a thirty year guarantee... She was 93 at the time.

 

Like Esther of old... God has providentially brought each of us to… this time... this place… In our life for a specific purpose.

 

The question is… Will we maintain ourintegrity… Will we allow Him to use us for His purpose... Or will we excuse ourselves by giving in to the aging process?

 

Perhaps Robert Browning said it best when he wrote...

Grow old along with me!

The best is yet to be,

The last of life, for which the first was made.

Our times are in His hand who saith,

‘A whole I planned,

Youth shows but half;

Trust God: See all, nor be afraid.

 

As Bible students... We understand that God places a premium on those of age...

• Proverbs 16.31 says... Grey hair is a crown of splendor... If it is attained by a righteous life.

• Proverbs 20.29... The glory of young men is strength... Grey hair the splendor of the old.

• We hear Job declare in 12.12 that... Wisdom comes with age... And with length of days comes understanding.

• Paul said about aging... Therefore... Do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is decaying... The inward man is being renewed day by day.

 

If we remember nothing else from this lesson... Remember this... WHEREVER we are in the aging process is OK... Because that’s exactly where God wants us to be.

 

We would do well to make sure that we end this life on a note of faithfulness… SEmpER fi… Always faithful!... Always a people and person of integrity!

 

In verse 16…Daniel realized his faith example would affect others. 

Read it with me… 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!

 

When Darius realized what had been done… How he had been tricked into placing his friend and faithful servant Daniel in the Lions’ Den… He said… Because of what I know about your life and your God… I have watched your God at work… I have faith… My faith tells me God will rescue you.

Darius’ faith was a direct result of Daniel’s integrity... His living faith example.

 

Daniel lived out Philippians 2.15… So become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.

 

You see church… We need to be aware of the fact that…

• When we are in the Lions’ Den…

• When Satan and this world have caused our life to tumble in…

Others are watching us… They’re watching how we deal with the issue at hand…

• Our children are watching and listening…

• Extended family…

• Neighbors & friends…

• Working companions…

• Even our enemies.

 

Imagine what would have happened here… If Daniel had… fallen apart… Wrung his hands in doubt before the King rather than maintaining his INTEGRITY.

 

In the same way…

• If we give up on our marriage…

• Give in to our… Doubts… Fears… Anxieties…

• Give free reign to our passions…

• Give up our faith in God’s Word for our culture’s political correctness

Then those watching us will be tempted to stumble. 

 

So…We must… Choose how we influence others carefully…Amen?

 

Well…Daniel’s integrity changed the whole world!...

Listen to how this ends... Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land: “May you prosper greatly! “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures for ever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”

 

Here it is church… We can change our world…

• By the way we deal with our temptations…

• How we react to being tossed into Satan’s pit of… Sin… Trials… And troubles.

 

Scripture tells us that… Indeed!... We can survive Satan’s fiery darts by being a people and person of integrity.

 

Well…There’s one more point I want to make this morning…

 

We can’t always tell who is a person of integrity…

So we must not be found judging this issue in the lives of others.

 

I read this story yesterday… A man walked in to a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise… Ordered a box of chicken to go.

 

The manager was on the way to the bank with the day’s proceeds… He had disguised the deposit by placing it in a chicken box.

 

Instead of giving the man his chicken to go… He gave him the box of money.

After driving to a park… The man opened the box to find the money instead of chicken.

So…He takes the box back to the store… The manager was ecstatic… Let me call the newspaper… They’ll come… Take your picture… You’re the most honest man in our town.

 

The man said… O NO!... YOU CAN’T DO THAT… … WHY NOT?... Well… You see… I’m married…And the woman I’m with is not my wife.

 

No wonder Jesus told us not to judge.

 

Genuine…None hypocritical integrity is judged by God… Amen?

 

We’re here this morning to help you become God’s child by...

• Faith in Him...

• Confession of Jesus as the Son of God...

• Repentance of sins...

• And being born again in New Testament baptism.

 

Perhaps we hear God’s call to become a person of integrity...

 

Maybe we need the prayers and encouragement of the church family to overcome some sin issue that’s keeping us from maintaining our integrity.

 

The invitation is ours... As we stand and sing together.