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Stories of Courage

Part 4 - Stand in Faith

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(8/9) Thank you for joining us again for part four of our series on Daniel. This morning, if you have your Bible or can find one under the seat near you, letís open the Word of God to Daniel chapter 10. And as youíre finding your place, let me catch you up to the context. Last week we were in chapter 6 and Daniel was in his 80s. Now heís even older and for many decades heís been standing firm in the faith, heís been believing that God would do some miracles, because if you remember in part one, King Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed Jerusalem taking the people captive to Babylon as slaves. And so Daniel for many decades has been praying that God would restore the Temple and that his fellow Jews would be released to go back to their homeland.

Now Daniel chapter 10, verses 1-18 tells usÖ "In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision.

At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.

On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist. His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.

I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; the men with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.

A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. He said, "Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you." And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.

Then he continued, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come."

While he was saying this to me, I bowed with my face toward the ground and was speechless. Then one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing before me, "I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I am helpless. How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe."

Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. "Do not be afraid, O man highly esteemed," he said. "Peace! Be strong now; be strong." NIV

Here in Daniel chapter 10, we find that Daniel received a vision from God that was so disturbing that all he could do was pray. You see, he been praying for decades and now God revealed more war and hardshipÖ it was too much for him, he couldnít take this disturbing vision, and so he did what he always didÖ he sought God in prayer.

And for 21 days he went on a fast. The Bible says in verse three that he ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched his lips; and he used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over. Basically what thatís saying is that he didnít eat, take a bath, or care for himself for three weeks. But he sought God, and at the end of that time, at the end of those 21 days, he had a vision of this heavenly being.

Now itís really interesting to me that Daniel was the only one who saw this vision. Daniel said, "I looked up and there before me was (this) manÖ but in verse 7 he said, "I was the only one who saw the vision; the men with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless" (Daniel 10:7-8). And so Daniel saw the vision, but the other guys didnít see it, so apparently there are times when God will reveal something to someone and not to someone else.

Maybe youíve had a similar experience where God showed you something that really moved you; maybe it was a song, a message, or a moment with God. And the reason youíve been singled out is because God has something specifically to show you. Daniel had a moment just like that. In the middle of verse eightÖ Heís in the presence of this heavenly being, and he saysÖ "I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helplessÖ I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground" (Daniel 10:8-9). Isnít that powerful! You see, even the strongest of men canít stand in the presence of an angel, a divine beingÖ we just canít bear the weight of the glory of God! And I believe that some of you are going to hear something today thatís going to move you, and youíre going to leave here a different person, because God has something just for you.

In the rest of our time together I want to apply this to our lives. You know, how do you stand in faith when youíre praying and you donít see anything happening? There are three things I want to share with you, three things to remember when youíre standing in faith, three things about God that will be your anchor.

1. God is Caring

The first thing I want to share with you is this: God is caring. The Bible says, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7). In Exodus chapter 34, this is how God revealed himself to Moses as he passed in front of him, He said, "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin..." (Exodus 34:6-7). You see, we need to remember that God cares about you more than you do.

Daniel tells us in verse 10, "Just then a hand touched me and lifted me, still trembling, to my hands and knees." Now thatís worth singing about isnít it? Listen to the words of this hymn by Charles Gabriel:

"From sinking sand He lifted me,

With tender hand He lifted me;

From shades of night to plains of light,

Oh, praise His Name, He lifted me!"

You see, the hand of God always extends to lift, it never extends to condemn and this is what Daniel says: "Just then a hand touched me and lifted me, still trembling, to my hands and knees." And some of you are going to sense the hand of Christ lifting you today. Because as the prophet Nahum proclaimed, "The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him" (1:7). You see, God is caring and in verse 11, "He said, "Daniel, you who are highly esteemedÖ." Now some of you this morning, this is what you needed to hear, this is why youíre hereÖ You are highly esteemed... You are valuable to God... He loves you and he cares about you. Thereís nothing you can do to make him love you more and thereís nothing you can do to make him love you less. He loves you because thatís who he is. God looks at each one of us with the same kind of love that a loving father has for his children. And he says, "You are highly esteemed." He cares more for us than we care about ourselves.

Verse 11 continues, "Öconsider carefully the words I am about to speak to you and stand upÖ for I have now been sent to you." And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling." Hereís what I want you to remember when you stand in faith. The first thing is that God is caring. That He cares about you more than you do. And the second thing is that God is working. As a matter of fact, heís doing immeasurably more than youíll ever ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within you (Ephesians 3:20).

2. God is Working

Verse 12 tells us, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them."

I want to talk about this, because so many of us have been praying so long that you wonder if itís even worth it, maybe youíve been praying so long that you are beginning to think God doesnít care and youíre just wasting your breath. Well, if youíve replayed that over and over in your mind, what I want you to understand is that the first time you prayed, God heard your cry. The first time you prayed for that whateverÖ God heard your prayer. And God loves to hear your prayer, he loves your persistence, he loves you crying out to him. He loves the faithful, persistent, prayer of the saints. But never forget thisÖ the first time you called on him, the first time you cried out in faith believing, the heavens opened, and God heard your prayer.

Look at verse 13, this is really coolÖ "But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia" (Daniel 10:13). Now we know from the New Testament, that God has arranged the angelic realm into differing ranks referred to as "rule, authority, power, and dominion" (Ephesians 1:21). And so Gabriel and Michael are chief princes, archangels, who have been given authority over the angels who minister to the people of God. Meanwhile Satan, the devil, the fallen angel Lucifer, imitates God by assigning certain demons, fallen angels, to positions of authority over various kingdoms. And so here we have the prince of the Persian kingdom, who is a demonic representative assigned to the region of Persia.

Now this angelic being says, "The prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me 21 days, Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia." And so this angel says, "I left Michael there to deal with this prince from Persia, but Iím going to Daniel as an answer to his prayer." Today you and I cannot underestimate the power of this; we canít diminish the reality of this, because there are demonic forces that are out there doing battle in the world today. Ephesians chapter 6 at verse 12 reminds us, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." In other words, what we see with our eyes is not all there is.

Think about this: Daniel prayed, he continued to pray, and what did he see? He didnít see anything, but just because he didnít see anything doesnít mean that God wasnít working. Jesus said, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working" (John 5:17). And I know thatís got to be speaking to someone here this morning, because youíve been praying for a long time, youíve been crying out to God, and you havenít seen anything. But, the first time you cried out to God, He released His angelic beings, and theyíre fighting for you. You may not see anything, but thereís a battle going on in the heavenly realms, because your God loves you and is working behind the scenes doing things you canít see and wouldnít understand. 21 days earlier when Daniel prayed, he saw nothing, but there was a battle raging in heaven, because heaven heard his prayer the very first time he prayed. Just because you donít see anything, it doesnít mean that Godís not working on your answer.

3. God is Powerful

And number three: God is powerful. This is important, because so many times we come to that place in our faith where we feel like weíve got nothing left; you know, where youíre at the end of your resources, but let me assure you, thatís when youíre strongest! Not in your own power, but thatís when Godís power becomes most real. The apostle Paul describes it as "his incomparably great power for us who believe" (Ephesians 1:19). And he says in Ephesians chapter 6 at verse 10, "Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power" (Ephesians 6:10).

You see, God is powerful, but until you fully embrace your weakness, youíll never appreciate and experience the fullness of his strength. The moment you recognize that youíve prayed, that you donít have any more faith, that you physically donít have any more strength, that you are exhausted, thatís when his power is fully "at work within you" (Ephesians 3:20). The apostle Paul actually said, "For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:10). And so, until you embrace your weakness, youíll never fully understand His incomparably great power for us who believe.

Thatís where Daniel was and in verse 16 he said to the one standing before him, "I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I am helpless. How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe" (Daniel 10:16-17). Now maybe this morning, that describes exactly where you are. You know your strength is gone. Youíve been hanging on for that marriage, for the kids, youíve been fighting for that job, and financially you just donít know, your strength is gone, you feel like youíre suffocating, and you can barely breathe.

Well look with me at what happened in verse 18, "The one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength."

Donít miss this, because for some of you this is what you needed to hear. One touch and faith is restored. One touch and theyíre coming back to Christ. One touch and youíre believing God for that answered prayer. One touch and your strength is returning. One touch and everything changes. Daniel says, "The one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. "Do not be afraid, O man highly esteemed," he said. "Peace! Be strong now; be strong." (Daniel 10:19). In other words he said, "If you didnít get it the first time, I want tell you again, "You are highly esteemedÖ Be strong." You see, you can keep standing in faith because you know that God cares, you are precious to him, and the first time you prayed God heard your prayer and released angels to do some work on your behalf.

Hereís the bottom line as we close: God may do exactly what youíre praying for or he may not, but just because you donít see anything happening doesnít mean that heís not working. God cares about you more than you care about yourself, heís working and doing way more than you can even imagine, and his power is made perfect in your weakness. This is key, because the moment you embrace your weakness, youíve tapped into Godís power, and what you need to understand, what you need to believe with everything in you, is that the moment you prayed, the first time you prayed, heaven heard your prayer. Just because we donít see anything doesnít mean that our God isnít working.

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