Faithful in Exile: “God’s Faithfulness Delivers Us”

Daniel Facing the Beasts

Passage: Daniel 6:1-23
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection

Sermon Summary

To live faithfully in exile, we need to be people of integrity—people who live “whole,” consistent, and integrated lives—both as individuals, and corporately.

In Daniel 6, we see in Daniel a portrait of true integrity. Daniel had spent almost seventy years serving three different kings in the highest echelons of the Babylonian court, and had developed a spotless reputation as a person of both skill and blamelessness—so much so that “the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom” (6:3). Throughout the years, however, Daniel remained completely loyal to God, and it was actually his loyalty to God that allowed him to be of fruitful service in Babylon. We live as people of integrity today when we, like Daniel, have consistency between our inner and outer lives, consistency across the various settings in which we find ourselves, and consistency in our words and deeds—essentially when who we are “holds together” across all of life. Likewise, a church with integrity is able to “hold together” what the world tends to separate—justice and evangelism, doctrine and worship, etc.

Daniel didn’t drift into being a person of integrity, however. He remained loyal to God over those seventy years—and loyal when King Darius issued his injunction—because he’d engaged in regular practices that trained his heart in such loyalty, opening his windows and pray on his knees towards Jerusalem three times a day (6:10). To be people of integrity today we need to make space for practices that will train our hearts to live for God and his kingdom.

Ultimately, the God who delivered Daniel from the lions’ den was the same God who empowered Daniel to remain faithful in his trial. The “excellent spirit” in Daniel (6:3) was the no less than empowering presence of the God who came to earth as a man in Jesus Christ—the ultimate person of integrity. When Jesus’ own integrity was put to the test, both in the wilderness, and ultimately on the cross, he remained loyal to God’s calling on his life, which involved identifying with us completely and pouring himself out wholly. When his Spirit animates us, we will be compelling people of integrity!

Sermon Outline

  • The Portrait of Integrity (6:1-9; 19-23)
  • The Practice of Integrity (6:10-13)
  • The Power for Integrity (6:3)

Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide

Re-read the passage (Daniel 6:1-23)

The Portrait of Integrity (6:1-9; 19-23)

Q) POSSIBLE INTRO QUESTION(S): This passage is all about integrity—being people who live consistent, whole, and integrated lives for God and his kingdom. Do you think Christians are generally viewed as being people of integrity today? Why or why not? Give some examples.

Q) Re-read Daniel 6:1-5. What are some evidences of Daniel’s integrity in these verses? What effect did his integrity have on the king? What effect did his integrity have on the other officials in the king’s court?

Q) Pastor Bobby said that being people of integrity means living lives that are “whole” (lit. “integrated”), and consistent across all of the settings in which we find ourselves. Knowing what you know about Daniel and the positions of power he held, how do you think Daniel’s integrity might have been threatened or tempted over his seventy years of service in the Babylonian courts?

Q) Pastor Bobby listed some common ways that we can exhibit a lack of integrity (wholeness, consistency) as individuals. Have you ever found yourselves exhibiting a lack of integrity in any of the following ways? If so, how? And what would integrity look like in this area of your life?
• In who you are in public vs. who you are in private
• In what you confess to be important with your words, vs. how you show this with your actions
• In how you speak in person vs. how you speak online
• In who you are when you’re with one group of people (e.g. family, close friends, coworkers, etc) vs. who you are with other people

Q) What is one practical step you can take towards living a more “integrated” life this week, particularly in one of the areas you mentioned in the prior question?

Q) Being a whole church of integrity involves being able to hold together what the world often thinks can’t be held together—for e.g., holding together an emphasis on rich doctrine and vibrant worship, an emphasis on justice and evangelism, loyalty to God and service of our neighbors. Can you think of a few other practical examples of areas or emphases that churches sometimes find difficult holding together? What are the downsides of this lack of integrity? How does it affect our corporate witness?

The Practice of Integrity (6:10-13)

Q) Re-read Daniel 6:10-13. What practice(s) did Daniel engage in that helped him stay loyal to God? What elements of this practice do you think helped reinforce to his loyalty?

Q) Pastor Bobby said that we’re always being shaped by the habits and rhythms we engage in, even subconsciously, and that some habits/rhythms actually form us away from God. Can you think of any habits you engage in on a regular basis that end up weakening your resolve to serve God and his kingdom? How do they do this?

Q) What practice(s) do you currently engage in that help you stay committed to God in exile? What difference do you notice in your life when you are regularly engaging in these practices vs. when you’re not?

The Power for Integrity (6:3)

Q) Re-read Daniel 6:19-24. What did King Darius learn about Daniel’s God?

Q) In Daniel 6:3, Daniel is said to have “an excellent spirit” in him, which was the Spirit of God. Why is the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit necessary for us to live lives of integrity?

Q) Pastor Bobby said that Jesus was the ultimate example of integrity. What examples from Jesus’ life can you think of where Jesus’ own integrity was challenged, and what can we learn from how he responded at those times?

Q) CASE STUDY: You’re talking to a friend who is not a Christian who had been visiting a coworker’s church. She tells you that she doesn’t know if she’ll keep going, because some of the recent sermons have felt too “conservative” for her liking. She liked when the pastor preached on things like environmental justice and racial reconciliation, but now that the church is going through a sermon series on evangelism and the exclusivity of Jesus, she feels like it’s “becoming dogmatic.” Based on this this week’s sermon, how would you respond to her?

Additional Application Questions

Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?

Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and
outside of the church?

Prayer

Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.

 
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