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Service Archives > 27 Daniel - I Dare You - 2013 > I Dare You: Pray! - Part 2

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I Dare You: Pray! - Part 2
Daniel 9:4-19
Skip Heitzig

Daniel 9 (NKJV™)
4 And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made confession, and said, "O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments,
5 "we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments.
6 "Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land.
7 "O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day--to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You.
8 "O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You.
9 "To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him.
10 "We have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets.
11 "Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him.
12 "And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem.
13 "As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth.
14 "Therefore the LORD has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the LORD our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice.
15 "And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day--we have sinned, we have done wickedly!
16 "O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us.
17 "Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord's sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate.
18 "O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies.
19 "O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name."

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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27 Daniel - I Dare You - 2013

Just as a square has four sides and is incomplete without all four sides, so too does effective prayer. Daniel leaves us with a great example (and a simple one at that). Though we can pray anywhere and anytime, these four elements form a great baseline for us to emulate. When you talk to God, make certain the signal is clear, your heart is pure, and your confidence is sure.

Skip Heitzig unfolds the book of Daniel verse by verse in the series I Dare You. We'll learn how Daniel lived differently and made a huge impact on his society, and we'll be challenged to do the same.

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Outline

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  1. Humble Adoration (v. 4)

  2. Honest Confession (vv. 5-15)

  3. Heartfelt Petition (vv. 16-19)

  4. Holy Motivation (vv. 16-17, 19b)

CONNECT QUESTIONS


  1. Daniel begins his prayer much like Jesus taught his disciples in Matthew 6:9. Why is humble adoration essential in our prayer lives?

  2. Daniel's prayer brings up instances where Israel as a nation did not heed God's clear commands or the words of his prophets (see Daniel 9:6, 10). What was the result of their disobedience?

  3. What clear commands have we received as Christians?

  4. Why is discipline necessary for God's children? (See Hebrews 12:4-11.)

  5. What should our response be to our personal sin and the sin of our nation or the universal church?

  6. How can we use Daniel's prayer as a template for our own prayer? In other words, what can we take away from his prayer and apply to our own prayer life?

  7. What do you think was the major point of this passage?

  8. What did God reveal to you in this passage?

  9. Is there anything that applies directly to you or to someone you know? How can you take aim at changing a negative behavior in a biblical way?

  10. Who was this passage originally directed to?

  11. How does this passage apply to believers?

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. Prayer is a very controversial thing to get involved in
      1. Schools
      2. Government
      3. The U.S. rebelled against Great Britain
    2. Prayer in the name of Jesus Christ
      1. Upsets people
      2. It causes a public furor
      3. According to U.S. News & World Report: All prayers in a public forum have to be pre-approved and edited according to policy
      4. Washington Post told of a public prayer at a high school graduation
    3. Daniel faced persecution; in his time, you couldn't pray to any god except the king
    4. Why do you think prayer is so controversial?
      1. Satan knows his end is near
      2. We typically only engage in prayer when the bombs are falling
      3. Costa Rican Tomato frog—too little, too late
  2. True, effective, communication with God
    1. The model prayer is the one Jesus prayed (see Matthew 6:9-13)
      1. Most of those same elements are in the prayer that Daniel prayed
      2. A prayer of balance
      3. Charles Spurgeon said, "Prayer is a rope that you pull down below, that rings up above in the ears of God"
    2. Four strands of that rope we pull on
      1. Humble Adoration
        1. Recognize who you are talking to—the King of Kings
        2. You could be praying to yourself
          1. Jesus told of a Pharisee who prayed with himself (see Luke 18:9-14)
          2. R.A. Torrey writes, "We should never utter one syllable of prayer in public or private until we are definitely conscience that we are coming into the presence of God and actually praying to Him"
        3. It gives you the needed perspective
          1. Look at a large crowd, the Bible directly in front of Skip's face—he can't see the crowd; but if he pushes the Bible out toward the crowd, he can now see everything
          2. Sometimes we have our problems right in front of our face and we can't see how big God is
          3. In Acts 4, the people cannot speak the name of Jesus publicly, then they pray and get the right perspective
          4. The Jews begin their prayers by recognizing God as King of the universe
        4. Great and awesome God
          1. Great in magnitude
          2. Great in importance
        5. The Lord is righteous
        6. The Lord is merciful and forgiving
        7. Daniel uses terms of adoration
        8. Too little time is spent in adoration
          1. For most people, prayer is like an aspirin or an emergency room
          2. For others prayer is like a first class hotel—name it and claim it—command God's power by their words
        9. The longer we know God, we should be progressing in our prayer maturity
          1. Babies cry, "Waaaaaa"
          2. Use your words, "I want that"
          3. As you grew older, you learned to communication differently
          4. Mature communication
          5. Dwight Moody's eight-year-old son said, "I don't want anything, I just want to be where you are
      2. Honest Confession
        1. Daniel confesses how the Jews blew it over and over again
          1. "I admit that I was wrong" the six most important words you can say
          2. They are the hardest to say
          3. Jesus taught that confession was necessary (see Matthew 6:11-12)
          4. Jesus also taught them to pray in plural--you are a part of something bigger; we
          5. That is how Daniel prays--he included himself
          6. Daniel locked arms with sinners, "I'm in this with you guys"
        2. Daniel's confession followed adoration
        3. Isaiah 6 is a perfect example; Isaiah is full of adoration, but then he recognizes he is a man of unclean lips
        4. Leonard Ravenhill said, "The self-sufficient do not pray, the self-satisfied will not pray, and the self-righteous cannot pray."
        5. Why does Daniel need to pray; doesn't God already know?
        6. Daniel uses the word shame (embarrassment, guilt)--it's a word of conscience
          1. In this day and age it's believed that we should not feel guilty
          2. Famous TCBY yogurt ad "All of the pleasure, none of the guilt"
          3. Understand
            1. There's bad guilt (an insecure person who feels guilt about everything)
            2. There's good guilt (when people feel guilty because they are guilty)
            3. Good guilt drives you to the Savior to get it taken care of
        7. Daniel stops and prays
          1. Pigeons walk funny because they can't focus when they're walking—in order to focus, they have to stop completely
          2. In our prayers,we have to stop and look upward; stop  and look inward
      3. Heartfelt petition
        1. Now he looks outward—he prays for what he sees happening around him
        2. As Daniel prays, it is very specific (listen, look, act, do it)
        3. Amen means "so be it" or "do it"
        4. Prayer is getting in on things with God
        5. Sometimes our prayers can be weak or vague—bless everyone, everywhere with everything
        6. In a restaurant: "I have an unspoken food need, bless me"
        7. Be specific
        8. His prayer was sympathetic, he prayed for others—intercessory prayer; It's the hardest form of prayer
          1. Worship is easy
          2. Personal petition is easy
          3. Paul said that intercessory prayer is labor (see Colossians 4:12)
          4. If you don't add intercession to your life, you will become more and more self-absorbed—a pew potato
          5. A prayer list will help
          6. That's how Jesus taught us to pray: "Give us this day our daily bread" (see Matthew 6:11)
      4. Holy Motivation
        1. "For the Lord's sake"
        2. There is an emphasis on "Your"
        3. Daniel's motivation was for the glory of God
        4. One of the reasons our prayers are ineffective is that we pray with the wrong motives
        5. Weigh your requests on whether they further the kingdom of God
        6. James writes that we lust and do not have, our motives are wrong, and we only ask for our own pleasure (see James 4:1-3)
        7. Daniel began with God and adoration, he ends with God and giving Him glory
        8. It's the same pattern that Jesus taught (see Matthew 6:9-13)
      5. Pull the rope, pull it frequently
        1. Adoration
        2. Confession
        3. Petition
        4. Holy motivation
  3. Closing
    1. A man went fishing with his friends; he didn't like church or God all that much; storm came and he started praying
    2. Don't be on a crisis cycle
    3. It's a wonderful place to be when you hang out with God, just to hang out with Him
    4. Come alongside God and say, "Do it!"
Publications Referenced: U.S. News & World Report, Washington Post
Figures referenced: Charles Spurgeon, R.A. Torrey, Dwight Moody, Leonard Ravenhill
Cross references: Isaiah 6, Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 18:9-14, Acts 4, Colossians 4:12, James 4:1-3

Topic: Prayer

Keywords: Daniel, glory, intercede, intercession, prayer

Transcript

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Welcome to I Dare You a series through the book of Daniel with Skip Heitzig.

We're in the book of Daniel, chapter 9. If you have your Bible, you could turn to Daniel, chapter 9. We've had the privilege of going through this book chapter by chapter. It's not an easy book to go through. The first part of the book is historical, the last part is mostly prophetic, but in the section we're in now, we're dealing with an incredible prayer by Daniel the prophet. So because we're studying prayer, it's only fitting that we actually pray; let's do it.

Lord, we know that prayer is always a pause; it's a moment where we take the time to shut out other stimuli and to be open to yours alone. It's a time we pour out ours hearts and our concerns, a time we pray for other people, but also a time that we simply enjoy with you. There's been an enjoyment already as we've bathed ourselves in the truths that these songs have provided.

And now as we open your Word, a Book that we believe to be not only inspired, but inerrant, that you are speaking to your people, that the experiences and the words written down giving us examples, models of what to do, and in some cases what not to do. As we look at this prayer, it is my prayer that we would be encouraged to enjoy the relationship that we have with you. That it would not be something forced, but it would be something that is compelling to us, in Jesus' name, amen.

You're aware that prayer is a very controversial thing to get involved in. Whether it's prayer in schools or prayer in public assemblies, it has become so controversial. In fact, I would add and say that prayer has been controversial in our country ever since the Revolutionary War. One of the reasons that we are a nation is that we rebelled against the tyranny of a government in Great Britain that wanted to curtail our freedom to worship and to pray according to dictates of our own heart. And so we left that, we rebelled against that, and we formed one nation under God.

But prayer is still very controversial, and the controversy lies specifically in the use of a certain name in prayer, and that would be the name of Jesus Christ. When our friend Franklin Graham prayed at a presidential inauguration, and he closed the prayer, predictably, in the strong name of Jesus Christ, people were upset. "How dare he pray in the name of Jesus." Well, if you I want the prayer to actually work, that's what you do.

One leader went so far as to say, "Praying in the name of Jesus is like pouring gasoline on a fire." That's the kind of public furor that it will create. So, it's interesting that according to U.S. News and World Report, Dan Gilgoff wrote an article saying that the White House wants to remedy that.

And they are insisting now that all public rallies that include prayer that are on a national level must first be approved, commissioned by the White House, and vetted by the White House; that is, all of the prayers have to be seen in advance and edited according to policy. So now the government wants to tell us how to pray and how not to pray. It sounds an awful lot like Great Britain, what we rebelled against to begin with.

A few days ago the Washington Post carried an article about a high school graduation, and one student who offered a public prayer in that place. It was controversial as expected. An atheist student—who incidentally did not even attend the prayer, he walked out for the prayer—was all upset. The prayer was only a minute and a half. It was not really controversial. It was very benign, did not include the name of Jesus, but the student who was an atheist regarded that as religious bullying.

Okay, I understand that not everybody agrees on this topic, but I simply say all that to introduce the topic and the text today, because we're dealing with a prophet, Daniel, who is also facing similar controversial circumstances. In fact, the whole reason he got put in the lions' den was because of his prayer. A law was passed; it was a politically-correct environment in Daniel's time where you couldn't pray to any God except the king. He violated that on purpose, opened his windows toward Jerusalem, and he prayed, and he got put in jail for it.

Now, I have a question for you: Why do you think, from a spiritual level, prayer is so controversial? My guess is because Satan knows it's so powerful. He knows that prayer, if you are engaged in it regularly, spells his demise, his defeat, his power, his strength in your life. So, he'll do anything he can to keep you from it. Our problem is we typically engage in prayer only when the bombs are falling and the crisis is happening.

We're sort of like the Costa Rican tomato frog. There's a frog in the jungles of Costa Rica that is bright red like a tomato. And when it's attack by a predator it exudes this milky, white poison all over its skin so that when the animal that is attacking gets the frog in its mouth and tastes the poison, he'll spit out. But the damage has already been done to the frog, and typically that amphibian will just die. Too little, too late. We often pray like that—after Satan has attacked and the damage is done.

So, we're going to look at Daniel, chapter 9. We're going to begin in verse 3 and take it down to verse—about verse 19 which comprises the prayer of Daniel. And it happens to be for us one of greatest models in the Old Testament of what true, effective communication with God is all about. Of course, the greatest model prayer in all of the Bible is what Jesus taught his disciples to pray: "Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." I'm saying it in the old King James, because that's how I was taught it. That's the model prayer.

But what's interesting about the prayer you and I are about to look at a little more carefully this week is that some of those same elements, in fact, most of those elements that Jesus taught us to pray in the Lord's Prayer are present in Daniel's prayer. You see, this is a prayer with balance. It's not all petition: I need, I want, give me, help me. It's not all praise. It's a balance of several things, and I'm going to give you four things, four things.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said that "prayer is the rope that you pull down below so that the great bell rings up above in the ears of God." Keep that in mind—it's a rope. And I want to give you four strands that should be a part of the rope that you pull when you are ringing that bell in the ears of God. But let's read through the text and then we'll go through it.

Daniel chapter 9 verse 3,

Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the Lord my God, and I made confession, and I said, "O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant and mercy with those who love him, and with those who keep his commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity. We have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from your precepts and your judgments. Neither have we heeded your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongs to you, but to us shame of face, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which you have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against you.

O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, princes, fathers, because we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against him. We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. Yes, all Israel has transgressed your law, has departed so as not to obey your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against him. And he has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem.

As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; and we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand your truth. Therefore the Lord has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works which he does, though we have not obeyed his voice. And now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made yourself a name, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have done wickedly!

O Lord, according to all your righteousness, I pray, let your anger, your fury be turned away from your Holy City, your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people are a reproach to all those around us. Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord's sake cause your face to shine on your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline your ear and hear; open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by your name; for we do not present our supplications before you because of our righteous deeds, but because of your great mercies. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for your own sake, my God, for your city and your people are called by your name."

There's four strands to this rope that we pull on to ring that bell, and the first strand (it's in your worship folder) is humble adoration, humble adoration. Notice in verse 4 Daniel says, "I prayed to the Lord my God." Daniel begins by recognizing to whom he is talking. He's not talking to a friend, he's not talking to King Darius, he's talking to the King of kings.

And it's important that when you're praying you recognize, "I'm saying this to God," because I actually believe it's possible to pray to yourself. You're not really talking to God, you're praying, and you're saying, "Oh, how does that sound? That sounds pretty good. Well, I hope they like what I just said and agree with it."

You remember in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus gave a parable about prayer and he said, "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. And the Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'Lord, I thank you that I am not like other men—especially like this tax collector.' " He prayed that out loud, but he was really praying to himself.

And so, R. A. Torrey writes, "We should never utter one syllable in prayer, in public or private, until we're definitely conscious that we are coming into the presence of God and actually praying to him." And here's why it's important that you recognize to whom you are talking: it gives you a needed perspective. See, we come to God so overwhelmed sometimes with our problems, and the issues, and it's reflected: "Lord, this is really hard. I know this sounds impossible"—what? You're talking to something who doesn't have the word in his vocabulary.

Example that has always been helpful to me is—I'm looking at you right now. I'm looking at a large group of people, a large crowd, and I mean that not individually, but corporately. It's a big mass I'm looking at. But I have a little object in my hand, the Bible, which is capable of, by perspective, pushing you away and you're out of my sight. If I do this, I cannot see you.

Now, if I were to push this Bible back into the crowd, and I would see its size in comparison to you, it wouldn't look that big. But when I push it really close to my eyes, it blocks everything else out. We often come with our problems to God right here. There's where they are; they're right here. I can't see anything but my issue, my little horizon, my problems. But then when I say, "O Lord, you are God," I'm talking to the Lord God; it pushes my problems out into the right perspective, and I see them in the light of who he is.

In Scripture there's an example of that: Acts, chapter 4, a law goes out, the early church cannot speak the name of Jesus publicly. And so the persecution hits; it looks like the program of Jesus is going to shut down, until they pray. And this is what they say, "Lord, you are God, you made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything that's in it."

Why did they bother with all of that in their prayer? Because they wanted to get this whole thing in the right perspective: "We are talking to the Creator, the all-powerful One." "Oh, by the way, we have this little issue we want you to attend to." It's pushing the problem back out into the perspective of the majesty of God.

That's why the Jews when they pray, they begin their prayers typically like this: Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha-olam; blessed are you Lord God, King of the universe. That's who we're talking to—the King of universe. So Daniel begins that way, "I pray to the Lord my God." Look what he says in verse 4. Look what he calls him, "O Lord, great and awesome God." That's humble adoration, it means great in magnitude, great in importance.

As he continues in his prayer in verse 7, he says, "The Lord is righteous." That is, God always does what is right, never makes a mistake. You never have to worry if he's blown it or done something wrong; he's always right. In verse 9 he calls him merciful and forgiving. In verse 14 he acknowledges his power, his might. In verse 15 he says he's made a name for himself. So when he prays, he uses adoring terms honoring God's character and praising God's name. That's how Jesus taught us to pray in the Lord's Prayer, right? "And when you pray, say: Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name." And that's how Daniel does it—he prays.

Frankly, I think too little time is spent in our prayers with adoration. So much of our prayer is self-focused. Adoration forces your eyes above the horizon of human difficulties and your own issues, and lets you get that right perspective and see things clearly. For so many people prayer is like an aspirin. Well, take two of these, every four hours, for three days. Pray twice and day for three days.

Or, God is something like an emergency room, you know. You know he's out there, and you know that prayer is kind of good to do, and it's probably good to talk to him every now and then, but you don't until a huge issue comes your way, and sort of like your driven to the emergency room, then suddenly it's like, "O God!"

For others prayer is sort of like a first-class hotel. They believe in a theology that says, "I can name it, and I can claim it. And I can tell God to do this, and I can command God's power by my words." And so they sort of see God as the bellhop in a nice hotel; they just call room service. Or, like, "Dial toll-free CLAIM IT, and get your blessing today!" But prayer begins with humble adoration.

Look at it like this: when we communicate with God, there's a progress that we ought to be making the longer we know him, a mature progress and communication. When you were a baby, you know what your first word was? I do. What was it? Can you say it? What? Waaa. Somebody just said, "Waaa." I think it was more like, "Waaaaaaaaaa!" I don't think you did, "waaa." If you did, you were, like, the coolest baby ever. [laughter]

But that was your first word; it was a cry. That's all you knew. When you wanted your bottle it was not "waaa," but "waaaaaaaaa!" You got your mom's attention, she fed you, you needed your diaper changed, it was "waaaaaaaaa!" Okay, not really great communication skills yet, but then your parents said, "Use your words." Right? And so you used your words, and your words were, "I want that! I need that!" A little bit of an improvement from the "waaa," but not really much.

But as you grew older, you learned to communicate differently, so that when you became an adult, your communication with your parents was far different. In the latter years while my parents were alive, when I called them on the phone, I never once said, "I need, I want, give me this, give me that." It was always, "How are you going? How can I help you? How can I be a blessing to you?" That's mature communication; so it is with prayer. As you become mature you get more concerned with this—I'm just in God's presence. It's a humble adoration.

Dwight L. Moody the great evangelist had a little child. He was busy preparing for a speaking tour, and he was in his study preoccupied with his books and his messages, and his little eight-year-old son came in and sat there. Moody said, "What do you want?" He said, "I don't want anything, Daddy, I just want to be where you are." And I think there's something to that in prayer. "Lord, I just want to be where you are. You are great, you are awesome. I'm talking to you. I'm hanging with you."

So humble adoration is the first strand; here's the second one: honest confession. That needs to be a strand of the rope that you pull when you talk to God—-honest confession. Beginning in verse 5, all the way down to verse 15, it's the longest section of this prayer which we've already read, it's a confession. It's Daniel saying, "We've blown it. I'm sorry. We've done this. We've acted wickedly."

Over and over again he goes through the history of the nation of Israel from the times of the kings and the prophets, and shows how they repeatedly disobeyed God's voice. It's been said that the six most important words in human relations are: I admit that I was wrong. They're the most important words, they're also the hardest to say, but here is Daniel saying them to God.

And when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, did he not tell them that confession was a necessary part of that? "Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."

Incidentally, have you ever noticed that when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he taught them to use the plural, not the singular. He never said, "Now, when you pray say, 'My Father in heaven. Forgive me. Give me this day my daily bread.' " [emphasis added] It was always "us," "we," "our," the plural. He wants you to realize that you're a part of something bigger than just you; you're a part of "we." And what's fascinating is that's how Daniel prays here.

In this prayer sixteen times he uses the word "we," seventeen times the word "our," nine times the word "us"; in total forty-two personal words. In other words, Daniel isn't, like, aloof from his people. Like, "I am the prophet, and they have really sinned, and I'm praying for them because they're bad and they're wicked." He said, "I'm a part of the problem—forgive us." He included himself in it. Sometimes we like to point our fingers at sinners. Daniel locked arms with them, held hands with them, said, "I'm in this with you guys. I'm a part of this."

Something else, you'll note that Daniel's confession follows his adoration. And I think that one naturally follows the other. I believe the closer you get to God, the greater you sense your own sin, and your own selfishness, and your own need to clear the slate with God; one always follows the other.

Classic example, Isaiah, chapter 6, he gets that grand vision of God high and lifted up—you know the story. He sees God, it's wonderful, it's amazing, he's filled with thoughts of adoration. But he says, "Woe is me! Woe is me! I'm seeing this, woe is me. I'm undone. I'm a man of unclean lips. I'm seeing God, and in seeing God I'm also seeing me. And as I see me in the light of God, I say, woe is me!"

Leonard Ravenhill said, "The self-sufficient do not pray, the self-satisfied will not pray, and the self-righteousness cannot pray." You say, "But why does he need to confess? Why does anybody need to admit, 'God, I'm a sinner,' doesn't he already know that?" Yeah, but I think he likes to hear you say it. The first step in humility is admission: "I was wrong. I admit that I was wrong." And Daniel does that.

Notice something further with this, in verse 7 and verse 8 he uses the word "shame." "O Lord, righteousness belongs to you, but to us shame of faith." That's a word of conscience—it's humiliation, it's embarrassment, it's guilt. Now if ever there were a day and age where society at large—especially the so-called intellectual elite—wants to say that guilt is bad and you should never feel guilt, it's this society, it's this culture, it's this day and age.

Guilt is considered passé, puritanical, cruel, even damaging to the human psyche by some. "Get rid of guilt. You shouldn't ever live under guilt." And so—the famous TCBY ads. Some of you remember the yogurt ad: "All of the pleasure, none of the guilt." A great way to advertise, because they knew that people in this culture want to banish guilt altogether.

But you gotta understand something: there's bad guilt, then there's good guilt. Bad guilt is a person who's just guilty about everything. He's just an insecure person, and everything that happens, he has a sense of guilt. But then there's good guilt, and good guilt is when people feel guilty because they are guilty. And when a person is guilty, a person ought to feel guilty. And why is it good guilt? Because it drives you to the Savior to get it taken care of, and that's good.

So he prays by looking upward, that's adoration; by looking inward, that's confession. Now, in order to do this you have to stop what you're doing and take time to do it. He'd been reading the book of Jeremiah, something caught his attention, the seventy years was almost up, the seventy years captivity that Jeremiah predicted, he stopped, and he starts praying.

I was reading an article sometime back about why pigeons walk funny. I know that's an odd article, but, you know, these are interesting little things. Because I used to notice—you know, I've never been a pigeon fan. Every time I see a pigeon it's, like, "Where's my BB gun?" But I see pigeons walk and they kind of drive me nuts, and they walk funny. They walk and they go like this—all the time. [laughter] Oh, yeah. I'm thinking, "That would hurt." It hurts just now.

But the article said that pigeons move to their head like that and stop in between steps because they can't focus on things that they're looking at unless their head is completely stopped just momentarily. So they have to completely stop in between steps; so, it's forward—stop, backward—stop, forward—stop, backward—stop, because their focusing, focusing, refocusing.

And I thought about prayer like that. Before we can proceed in our walks with the Lord, we have to spend the time focusing—upward look, inward look, upward look, inward look, adoration, confession, getting our bearings, knowing where we're at, and then proceeding forward. So we have two strands on this rope: adoration, confession. Here's the third: heartfelt petition. Now, instead of looking upward or looking inward, he looks outward. Now, he actually prays for what he sees happening around him.

Verse 16, "O Lord, according to your righteousness, I pray, let your anger, your fury be turned away from your city Jerusalem." Remember he's not been there for many years. "Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and our iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem, and your people are a reproach to those around us. Now therefore, O Lord, hear the prayer of your servant," that's him, "and the supplications, and for the Lord's sake cause your face to shine on your sanctuary, which is desolate.

"O my God, incline your ear," that means bend close, listen carefully, Lord. "Incline your ear and hear; open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by your name; for we do not present our supplications before you because of our righteous deeds, but because of your great mercies."

I love this last verse. "O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for your own sake, my God, for your city and your people who are called by your name." You'll notice that as he prays this petition, and this is really the only time in the prayer he's actually asking God for something, that it's very specific, very specific. "O Lord, you see it, now do something. Listen, look, act, do it!" By the way, that's really what amen means. Amen means "so be it" or "do it."

So here's Daniel, he has read that God is going to bring Israel back after seventy years to Jerusalem. He knows God is going to do it, and he comes along and says, "Do it!" Really that's what prayer is. Prayer isn't really getting things from God, as much as getting in on things with God. "Lord, you said you're going to do it. I believe you're going to do it. Do it!" It's very specific, "Listen, act, do it, Lord."

I fear that sometimes our prayers can be rather weak or vague, let's put it that way—vague, vague. "Lord, just bless everyone, everywhere, with everything, amen." [laughter] Amen? I can't say amen. What is that? That's nothing. Or, have you ever heard this one? "Lord, you know every request spoken and unspoken." Okay, but since you're speaking, why don't you tell him what that is specifically?

If you were to walk into a restaurant and you were to say, "I have an unspoken food need, bless me," they'd look at you like you're the weirdest cat on earth. "Dude, take a menu and point something out. We can fetch that for you really quick." Be specific; Daniel was specific in his petition.

Also, his petition was sympathetic. He was praying for others around him. He wasn't in Jerusalem; he's praying for that city. In fact, he wouldn't even be returning to Jerusalem, he would die in Babylon, but others would be returning, so he's praying for other people. Now, this is the part of petition we call intercession. Intercessory prayer is where we pray, not for ourselves, but for other people, and can I just say, it's the hardest form of prayer.

It's a lot harder to pray for other people. It's the hardest form of prayer. Worship isn't hard. I mean, God is great, I can hang out with God, he's amazing, he gives blessings, he knows everything. It's very natural for a child of God. You'd be awfully narcissistic to not worship. You'd have to be very self-focused to not to worship. So worshiping is pretty easy.

Praying for myself is pretty easy, even if it's confession; I know what I've done wrong. I can let that fall off my lips before God very quickly, no problem, very easy to do that. Praying for things for myself, personal petition—easy. But when I start praying for other people, that's labor. That's where you get spiritual ADD. That's where you start falling asleep or getting distracted, because you're not in touch emotionally with their needs like you are your own needs. So that's laboring in prayer.

Paul said of Epaphras, in the New Testament, "He's a bondservant of Christ, laboring fervently for you in prayer." It is hard work, but it's necessary work, because if you don't add intercession to your life, you will become more and more self-absorbed. You will become a pew potato. Is that registering? You know what a couch potato is? A guy who just sort of sits around and eats chips, dip, more chips, more dip, just kind of gets bigger by the day, watching TV, TV, TV, TV—couch potato. You can become a pew potato.

It's all in the—there's a crisis a lot of Christians face in their spiritual walk. It's all they're taking it in. They're part of the International Bless Me Club. "Well, here I am, pastor, bless me now." And it's all intake, it's all what I can hear, what I can get, what makes me feel good, but there's never an outlet, and so that person becomes spiritually obese. The only outlet they have is to gossip, or slander, or complain.

You know what will help? A prayer list, a prayer list. Take a list, whether it's by pencil and paper, or your little phone, your little iPhone, or whatever gadget you have, not trying to discriminate. And just go in that little note app and—that's what I do—write little things down that people you know need, and keep a running list, and pray for them. That's how Jesus also taught us to pray. "Give us this day our daily bread."

Here's the fourth and final strand on this great rope that rings the bell, and that is holy motivation. Did you notice something in that last section of the prayer that we looked at? He says, for example, in verse 17, "Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of your servant, and his supplications, for the Lord's sake cause your face to shine on your sanctuary, which is desolate." Verse 19, "Hear, O Lord! Forgive, listen, act! Do not delay for your own sake, my God, for your city and your people that are called by your name."

There's an emphasis on your, your, your, your. Do this for your sake. We're your people called by your name, you have a represent takes to uphold, do it for that reason—that's the motivation. Daniel's motive in seeing this prayer answered was not for the good of his people as much for the glory of his God.

Incidentally, one of the reasons, according to the New Testament, that our prayers seem so ineffective or unanswered is because we pray with the wrong motives. "Lord, I really need that big screen really badly." I think you can pray about anything in the world, but I don't know if you really "need" it all that badly. I mean, start weighing your requests by the motivation of: does this further the program of God in this world?

Listen to what James writes, James, chapter 4, "You want what you don't have, and so you scheme and kill to get it. You're jealous for what others have, and you can't possess it, and so you fight and quarrel to take it away from them. And yet the reason you don't have what you want is you don't ask God for it. And even when you do ask, you don't get it because your whole motive is wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure."

So, you see, effective prayer has God's interests in mind—the glory of God. So get it: Daniel looks upward, adoration; inward, confession; outward, petition; and then he closes his prayer upward again—it's full circle. He ends where he begins. He began with God in adoration; he ends with God in giving him glory. And, again, is that not how Jesus taught us to pray at the end of the Lord's Prayer? "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen." That's the pattern.

So here's the deal—pull the rope. Pull the rope, pull it frequently, pull it long and hard. As Spurgeon said, "Prayer pulls the rope down below that rings the great bell above in the ears of God." But make sure that when you pull the rope, that four strands are attached; that is, the rope of adoration, and confession, and petition, and holy motivation.

Don't be like that man who went fishing with his friends; he really didn't like church all that much. He wasn't really a "religious" kind of a guy. So, he didn't want to go to church, didn't want to pray much, and didn't care for God. His wife did, but he didn't. And he's out fishing with his buddies and everything's good until a storm came and that boat looked like he was about to sink.

And he started praying, "O God, righteous and holy are you, God." And then he paused and goes, "Lord, I know I haven't prayed to you in about fifteen years, but if you would save me now, and bring me home safely, I promise not to bother you for another fifteen years." [laughter]

For a lot of people, that's it. It's a fifteen-year cycle, it's a crisis cycle, when it could be a wonderful relationship where you're just thinking, "Lord, I really don't want anything; I just want to be here with you. I'm not really looking for things as much as looking for what you're doing and want to be part of it. So I can just come along and find out what you're doing, and go, do it, do it! I like that, do that. Amen!" A wonderful place to be.

And, so, Father, we bow acknowledging that you are great, that you are magnificent, that you are righteous, and merciful, and forgiving, and powerful. And we pray, Lord, that you would forgive us our debts as we would freely forgive those who have trespassed against us. Lord, I pray that you would open up the possibilities that we could literally travel around the world on our knees from continent to continent, city to city, person to person, missionary to missionary, and see you work in their lives simply by not even leaving our house, but just lifting them up before your throne. And we know the enemy would love keep us away from that great power. Lord, do it for your glory, in Jesus' name, amen.

For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig visit calvaryabq.org.

Additional Messages in this Series

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1/6/2013
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I Dare You: Be Distinct!
Daniel 1
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Men and women of character will rise to meet a challenge. Our challenge over the next few months will be modeled in the life of Daniel, a man of God who stood out above the rest, honored God, and influenced his world. Each week, our service will be formed around a new challenge—a dare—to rise up, be counted, be different, and above all, be pleasing to God.
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1/13/2013
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I Dare You: Step Up!
Daniel 2:1-23
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Any crisis we face is a test. How will we respond? What actions will we take? What will our faith in God mean to us and to others in that moment of crisis? Daniel and his friends faced their moment of crisis when the King of Babylon’s insomnia became their worst nightmare. As they faced the possibility of their own death, they used the situation to display their life-giving faith. Let’s consider how we can step up to life’s difficulties and use them as spiritual opportunities.
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1/20/2013
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I Dare You: Speak Out!
Daniel 2:24-49
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Words can become jumbled when we feel intimidated by the one we’re speaking to, especially if the one we’re speaking to intends to kill us! That’s why this story is so inspiring: Daniel speaks out clearly, boldly, accurately, and yet humbly to Babylon’s monarch and thereby gives us a model of speaking God’s truth to our world.
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1/27/2013
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I Dare You: Stand Up!
Daniel 3
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Fitting in, blending in, and conforming to the values of the world around you is what is expected. If you dare go against the flow of popular worldly ideologies, you will be a marked person, regarded as a fanatic and relegated to the category of "dangerous individuals." Three of Daniel's friends decided it was better to stand up for God than to bow down to the wishes of the crowd. Their conviction of heart was to refuse to be "conformed to this world" (Romans 12:2).
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2/3/2013
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I Dare You: Submit!
Daniel 4:1-18
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Before us is a remarkable section of Scripture with a remarkable story about a king who makes a remarkable statement. It is the personal journal of an earthly political monarch who recognizes God’s authoritative rule in the human realm. As amazing as the story is, it carries with it implications for us to submit to God by submitting to man’s government.
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2/10/2013
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I Dare You: Be Humble!
Daniel 4:19-37
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A pundit once quipped, "Humility is like underwear—essential, but indecent if it shows!" The opposite of humility is pride, and Daniel 4 reveals it in spades. Nebuchadnezzar will learn (and then tell) about the greatest lesson God showed him in his long career—that He is able to humble those who walk in pride. So why not learn it the easy way? Listen carefully and apply these truths diligently. I dare you!
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2/17/2013
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I Dare You: Wake Up!
Daniel 5
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As a teacher was lecturing his class, he noticed a student sleeping in the back row, so he said to the sleeping student’s neighbor, "Hey, wake that guy up!" The neighbor answered back, "You put him to sleep, you wake him up!" Falling asleep on the job may be harmless in some situations, but not as the ruler of a nation, and certainly not when God’s judgment is impending. This week’s dare is directed to anyone who is not heeding divine warning signals and needs to wake up.
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2/24/2013
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I Dare You: Be Faithful!
Daniel 6:1-15
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Daniel was consistently faithful, both publicly and privately. His diligence and attitude set him apart from his peers and his reputation withstood harsh scrutiny. When his life was on the line, Daniel refused to compromise—he dared to be faithful!
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3/3/2013
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I Dare You: Be Steadfast!
Daniel 6:10-28
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Calvin Miller once wrote, “Security is never the friend of faith. It is peril that produces steadfastness.” Daniel knew this to be true and was willing to sacrifice the security of life and limb because his heart was steadfast and immovable toward his God. Even though he had been faithful to king and country, this aged prophet faced the trial of a lifetime.
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3/10/2013
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I Dare You: Defend!
Daniel 7:1-8
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Daniel did fine when he was thrown into the lions’ den, but how does he fare when thrust into the critics’ den? Daniel is an amazing book of prophecy as well as history, yet it has not escaped the bright white light of antagonistic critics through the ages. Today I dare you to move beyond a shallow faith that depends on personal feelings and subjective experiences and learn to “contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3).
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3/24/2013
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I Dare You: Decide! - Part 1
Daniel 7:8-28
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The world as we know it won’t last forever. Time will not march on without interruption. Daniel saw a vision of four future kingdoms which can be documented historically. But one final worldwide antagonistic thrust against God is coming. It will be waged by a ruler typically referred to as the Antichrist (but actually there are many more names for him). A fourfold description of this coming dictator’s reign is highlighted before us. Even more basic is the choice we must all make about which kingdom we will be part of.
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4/14/2013
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I Dare You: Decide! - Part 2
Daniel 7
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The time is coming when the world will have to decide between a false messiah and the true Christ. Sadly, some already have. Today, we'll consider the world's fastest growing religion and how it might possibly interact with the Bible's predictions of the end times.
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4/21/2013
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I Dare You: Look Ahead!
Daniel 7:9-14;7:26-27
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Economists, meteorologists, visionaries, and psychics all share one thing in common: They all try to predict the future to announce what's coming. God's prophets never had to; God revealed it to them and they simply wrote it down or spoke it out. The central highlight of Daniel's vision in chapter 7 isn't the coming kingdoms of earthly men nor of the coming Antichrist but rather the coming of Jesus Christ. Let's look ahead and see what's coming.
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4/28/2013
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I Dare You: Be Great!
Daniel 8:1-8;8:20-22
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The New York Life Review posted this: "Great men have but a few hours to be 'great.' Like the rest of us, they must dress, bathe, and eat. And, being human, they must make visits to the dentist, doctor, and barber and have conferences with their wives about domestic matters. What makes men great is their ability to decide what is important, and then focus their attention on that." (I think that goes for great women too!) Let's compare three men who some consider to be great, and then see how we measure up.
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5/19/2013
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I Dare You: Be Shocked!
Daniel 8:8-27
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When was the last time you heard someone respond to an incident or piece of information by saying, “That’s shocking!”? Shock (emotional disgust, offense, and aversion) has been diminished due to a widespread exposure to facts and images. Things get too easily relegated to a file in our brains marked, “I’ve already heard this before.” It’s a sad day (and dangerous) when we become spiritually desensitized to God’s truth and the world’s pain.
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5/26/2013
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I Dare You: Pray!
Daniel 9:1-5
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I have never met a person who's regretted praying too much. I've met plenty who've regretted praying too little. Prayer is the one activity that everybody knows they need, but few actually do. It's preached often, but practiced seldom. Forgive me if I'm dispensing guilt—that's not my intention. I'd rather take a peek into the busy life of an ancient executive (Daniel), and see the role prayer played for him and, in so doing, get fired up about this most powerful of activities!
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6/9/2013
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I Dare You: Understand!
Daniel 9:20-27
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God wants us to understand! He wants us to understand the truth about life. He wants us to understand the way of salvation. He wants us to understand His plans for the future. Today we come to the scriptural key that unlocks the door to the prophetic future of God’s plan. If you have never known it before, choose to understand it now. I dare you!
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6/30/2013
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I Dare You: Fight!
Daniel 10
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Fighting is never fun, but it's sometimes necessary. Certainly that's the case with the Christian life: It's not a playground but a battleground. Spiritual warfare (the cosmic battle between forces of good and evil) is a reality that none can escape but few really understand. For Daniel, the curtain is pulled back and he is allowed to see past the natural world into the supernatural world. Let's get a firsthand briefing on a heavenly battle that has earthly repercussions.
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7/7/2013
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I Dare You: Remember!
Daniel 11:1-35
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Daniel 11 is packed with prophecies about the history of Israel and the world. In just the first 35 verses of the chapter, we find that 135 of those prophecies have already been fulfilled. As we look at the historical details Daniel received in his visions, God's sovereignty comes to the forefront and prompts us to remember that He will carry out the prophecies yet to be fulfilled.
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7/14/2013
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I Dare You: Rest!
Daniel 11:36-45
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It's hard to be at rest when everything around you is chaos and conflict. But today that is our dare. Peace isn't the absence of a storm but being at rest in the midst of the storm. Daniel is informed about a stormy future in store for his own people and for the whole world. As we look ahead to consider a leader who will come during the most tumultuous time in human history, I dare you to rest in four distinct ways:
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8/4/2013
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I Dare You: Hope!
Daniel 12:1-3
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There is nothing needed more in the world today than hope. Every generation faces the tendency toward despair and hopelessness. Daniel especially did since he was learning of his own people's future suffering that would last for multiplied generations. But at last, God gives him a precious ray of hope: The worst of times will usher in the best of times. Four words describe that future time and become four rungs on the ladder of hope.
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8/11/2013
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I Dare You: Respond!
Daniel 12:4-13
Skip Heitzig
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The Christian life is essentially a response to God: God is the Master and we are His servants; He's the Good Shepherd and we are the sheep; He is the Head and we are members of His body. Even our love for God is a response: "We love Him because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). In this final section of the book of Daniel, let's consider three things that God does and what our response should be in each case.
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8/18/2013
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I Dare You: Be Balanced!
Daniel 1-12
Skip Heitzig
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One dictionary defines balance this way: "A condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions." That's a fitting word to describe the whole of Daniel's life. In today's final study of the book of Daniel, we consider the man himself and how his life was so outwardly powerful and yet so inwardly stable. Daniel was supremely balanced in at least four areas.
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There are 23 additional messages in this series.