Back to School with God – Online Service

Sunday 16 August 2020


Intimations

– You may want to use some of the Engage Worship resources for daily worship during this week

– The Messy Church At Home information is now available on our church website www.broughtybaptist.org

– The Prayer Livestream is at 7.00pm on Sunday 16 August 2020.  This will be another significant time of national prayer for us. Click here to access.

JAM Kids’ focus:

The Out of the Box series has now finished. This week we turn to the Virtual Sunday school with an episode on ‘The Body of Christ’ in I Corinthians 12 – what It means to belong and to have a part to play.

JAM young adults Ignite Live have a separate programme at 11:15am on the Zoom platform –parents of teenagers can get a link code by contacting Gary Torbet on garytorbet@btinternet.com

Introduction

Welcome to our Back to School with God service.

Today we are thinking about the start of a new school year and how we might prepare well. All of us are settling back into a routine after a major time of change and challenge. Perhaps you are starting school for the first time, going into a new year group or moving on to further study. Maybe, as an adult, you are starting a new job, or going back to work. In all of these things it is normal to feel excited and nervous at the same time! Sometimes we might wonder what lies ahead in the days and weeks to come, but here is a Bible verse to encourage and remember.

This Bible verse is a wonderful reminder that God not only hears us when we pray, he wants to come close to us, care for us and rescue us. God wants us to talk to him about everything, so let’s talk to him now.

Opening prayer   

Lord God, thank you that you are close when we talk to you. Thank you that you listen to us; that your son Jesus came to die to save us; that you love us deeply. Thank you that you hear the cries of our heart. As we come together this morning, may we be aware of your presence. Help us to listen to your words in the Bible. Help us to know what you want to teach us. Give us hearts that long to obey you. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Let’s praise and thank God for hearing our prayer by worshipping him together.

Bible passage introduction

When you hear the name Daniel, who do you imagine? Maybe you are called Daniel, or you know someone who is! The Daniel we are thinking about today is the Daniel of the Bible. That Daniel lived a long time ago, approximately 600 years before Jesus was born. He had many great adventures. Let’s find out a little more about him. Click here to watch a special news broadcast.

Daniel has had an exciting life so far! In chapter 6 of the book of Daniel, Daniel is about to have another adventure. A new king, King Darius, is on the throne. Let’s find out what happens next.

Bible reading
Daniel 6:1-10:
It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three chief ministers over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the chief ministers and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the chief ministers and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. 

Finally these men said, ‘We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.’ So these chief ministers and satraps went as a group to the king and said: ‘May King Darius live for ever! The royal ministers, prefects, satraps, advisors and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered – in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.’ So King Darius put the decree in writing.

10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened towards Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 

Prayer Shapes

It isn’t always easy to follow rules. King Darius couldn’t be everywhere at once, and he ruled over a very large kingdom. For that reason, he chose reliable, responsible leaders to make sure people were keeping his rules. One of them was Daniel.

It’s a bit like what happens in school: your Head Teacher is in charge, but he or she asks others to help so the school runs smoothly. Perhaps some of you here today might help a teacher or Head Teacher – acting as monitors, mediators, or buddies to younger children. In secondary school you might be a prefect, a head of your house, or even Head Boy or Head Girl. Hopefully, like Daniel, you are given responsibility because you can be trusted and people think well of you.

Daniel stood out from the crowd. He was trustworthy, he wasn’t lazy, and he didn’t cheat. In school, I wonder what that might look like. It might be working hard; not being late for class; getting your homework in on time; helping others; keeping your promises; listening well; being respectful and kind. If you do these things, people will notice.

Sometimes, however, we don’t do things with the best motives. We are going to watch a wee clip from the children’s programme Horrid Henry that shows this.

Horrid Henry didn’t have good motives. He was only nice to Peter because he wanted to gain something. Daniel wasn’t like this. Daniel loved and trusted God, and that shaped who he was. Daniel always worked hard. He did this so his life would bring honour to God – not so he would become rich or famous. God gave Daniel success. He caused the king to give Daniel promotion.

God loved Daniel, and Daniel loved God. Daniel allowed God to be in charge, and as a result, God was the one who was shaping Daniel’s life for him. God is pleased when we live for him, rather than living for ourselves. We might hear people around us say that you can map out your own future, or the future is in your hands, but the Bible tells us that only God knows our future! Let’s be like Daniel and trust God to shape our lives for us. The more time we spend with God, the more he changes our thinking and our attitudes to be more like Jesus. 

 Three times a day Daniel got down on his knees and prayed. Wow!

He didn’t just pray a quick prayer in the morning, or a brief thank you prayer at night. Because he prayed often, he became the kind of person God wanted him to be. His strength and trust were in God, not in himself. His focus wasn’t on what great things he could do – but what great things God could do through him.

Remember back in our Bible reading when the king made a new law that put people who prayed to God in danger? Did Daniel stop praying? Not at all! Did he pray to King Darius instead? Certainly not! When he heard about the new rule, he did as he usually did. He went to his room, knelt down and prayed.

Even when the king’s new law was introduced Daniel “prayed and thanked God, just as he had always done.” Taking everything to God in prayer was normal for Daniel, and he wasn’t going to stop now. He thanked God as he usually did, before asking him for help. Prayer made Daniel the person he was – prayer shaped Daniel. What about us?

– Do we pray regularly, like Daniel?
– Does prayer shape our character, like it did Daniel’s?

That’s something to think about.

Bible reading
Daniel 6:11-28:
11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: ‘Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?’ The king answered, ‘The decree stands – in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.’

13 Then they said to the king, ‘Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.’ 14 When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sunset to save him.

15 Then the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, ‘Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.’

16 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!’

17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.

19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 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?’

21 Daniel answered, ‘May the king live for ever! 22 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, Your Majesty.’

23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. 24 At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

25 Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth: ‘May you prosper greatly! 26 ‘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. 27 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.’ 28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Prayer Saves   

Introduction

In today’s context in 2020 Daniel would have been required to be shielding at home as a man of over 70 years of age during the Covid-19 virus pandemic! However, he may be weaker in body than when he first came to prominence in Babylon (Iraq) as an older child or a young teenager, but the character of this individual was already formed in his earliest years. God came first in his life. Does He come first in yours and mine? Humanly-speaking today many readers of the book of Daniel might think this was his biggest test of commitment to God. But I believe they would be wrong. He was a man shaped in his daily life by his commitment to a regular pattern of prayer. He saw this as an essential part of the rhythm of his life and all the experiences of life that he would face was viewed through the lens of his relationship with the God who is able to hear and answer his prayers. Is your life and mine based on this spiritual foundation? If not, why not? Let us remind ourselves of the awful day when Daniel got the worst possible news he could have received at that time. What did he do?      

1. Daniel’s prayer (Daniel 6:10)

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened towards Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Daniel was in very real danger! It was a wicked trap that had been set with a view to him being executed so that others could gain from his death. What Daniel did and how he did it tells us something of the mind-set of the man. He deliberately continued his regular routine. He would not allow other people to bully him into giving up his faith or its priority place in his life.

In an increasingly secular world today there can be huge pressures on people of faith in prominent political offices to play down their faith. Some of us can remember the answer of former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s press secretary Alistair Campbell to a press enquiry about the fact that his boss went to church and the enquiry was in effect: ‘Will his belief in God affect how he conducts his government?’

The panicked response: ‘We don’t do God’. It might have been the response the secular reporters wanted to hear, but to us as Christians the idea that our faith in God has no impact on the way we behave is ludicrous! A faith that has little or no impact on the choices we make or the priorities we hold is pointless. 

However, the men who wanted to harm Daniel found him praying and asking God for help – not running away and hiding, and definitely not praying to King Darius. They knew the kind of man Daniel was and by turning up at his regular prayer time, they knew how he would behave. Are you and me men and women, or boys and girls of principle, whose faith in God through the Lord Jesus directly influences how we think, speak and act?                 

2. Daniel’s predicament (Daniel 6:11-15)

11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: ‘Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?’ The king answered, ‘The decree stands – in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.’ 13 Then they said to the king, ‘Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.’ 

14 When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sunset to save him. 15 Then the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, ‘Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.’

The law of the Medes and Persians, at least as practised at that time, appeared to be very inflexible. The wicked men had got the vain king to pass a ridiculous decree that was a load of nonsense. How could the private prayer lives of citizens be observed and reported throughout a large empire? It wasn’t! No-one else was checked up on, only Daniel the Prime Minister.    

He was now breaking the law. That meant he would have to face the consequences, and the penalty was to be flung into a den of lions. Take a moment to think how you might feel in his place once the men drew attention to the consequences of his prayer time. I suspect many of us might feel very stressed inside with our hearts pounding, even if we were trying to pretend that we were ‘okay’! I feel bad enough when driving my car on public roads whenever I hear a police siren on a police car behind me. Even if I cannot think of anything I could have done wrong in my driving, until it has gone past me I cannot relax. But that was nothing to what Daniel was facing.

We aren’t told how Daniel felt. But we can see from his actions that he was calm and collected. He knew he had done nothing wrong. Daniel showed no panic, just absolute trust. Why? This could be because he had spent time in prayer; he knew he was not alone, that God was with him. He didn’t go to the king for help. He asked God for help. Prayer helps us to know God and what He is like. Remember again the Bible verse we read at the start of our service? Let’s read it again. The Lord is near to all who call on Him;  to all who call on Him in truth. 19 He fulfils the desires of those who fear Him;   He hears their cry and saves them. (Psalm 145:18-19)

3. Daniel’s peril (Daniel 6:16-20)

16 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!’ 17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 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?’

Darius the foolish ruler of the land was desperately sad at the mistake he had made that looked like costing the life of the person he most respected in the whole government. He was at that moment in time a totally powerless individual. This is why Psalm 146:3 reminds us: Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.

Politics is important, but whether kings or queens or other monarchs, or presidents or prime ministers in elected offices, they are human beings with flaws and weaknesses just like us. They need our prayers so much to prevent them passing bad laws or making bad choices that can have a devastating impact on ordinary people’s lives. All of us can think of examples of that in the very recent past without having to delve into the history books!  

What is really important is that God was close to Daniel, and that made all the difference. We don’t read of Daniel protesting, or making a fuss. Unlike King Darius, who was now in a real panic! Daniel’s prayers didn’t just save Daniel. There is a twist in this story – prayer saved the king and others as well. Darius liked Daniel and the Bible tells us he tried to rescue him.

The Bible says in Daniel 6:14: [the king] made every effort until sunset to save him. And yet he came to realise that even as king, he could do nothing. He had to carry out the law he had issued, as royal decrees could never be changed. Even though he was king, he was powerless. He had to throw Daniel into the lion’s den. He couldn’t rescue Daniel: only God could.  Suddenly, as Daniel was being flung into the den of lions, King Darius realised Daniel’s only hope was God. Have you come to that realisation of your need of God too? The question is what happens next when you get such an insight; will you act on it or dismiss it and carry on your life as before? 

He shouted, ‘May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!’ (Daniel 6:16). King Darius showed the first step it takes to truly trust God by recognising that God is in control and we are not. He alone can save.  So after a sleepless, hungry night, the king hurried to the lions’ den, desperately hoping that God had heard his prayer.

4. Darius’ proclamation (Daniel 6:21-28)

21 Daniel answered, ‘May the king live for ever! 22 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, Your Majesty.’ 23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

24 At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones. 25 Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth: ‘May you prosper greatly!

26 ‘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.

27 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.’ 28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

The king’s heart would have been pounding as he walked all the way to the lion’s den. Over and over again in his mind he must have been condemning himself for his stupidity. Praise God that we don’t have to face the consequences of all our mistakes, there are times when God in His sovereignty overrules for our good and for His glory.


Miraculously, Daniel was completely safe and unharmed. What an amazing sight that must have been! God had saved him. God had heard both Daniel, and Darius’s, prayer. The impossible had happened. Daniel was alive, not dead! Only God could have done this. Darius had seen first-hand the power of God, and he was overjoyed. And so, Darius came to trust God for himself. Not only that, he declared that everyone else in his kingdom should worship God too. Prayer saves.Prayer saved Daniel. And prayer saved King Darius. What an encouragement to us today. May we never forget that prayer shapes who we are. And prayer saves. Hallelujah! Amen

Prayer:  A prayer of response

On this Back to School with God Sunday we want to pray for our children, teachers, and local schools. It is a privilege to be able to support schools in prayer, particularly as we all know they have been through a difficult time.

A number of people will lead us in prayer. However, so we can all take part ­– at different points when we read the words: ‘Lord, hear our prayer’, we will respond by saying together the words: Thank you, God that you are close to us when we pray.

Parent (Claire): Let us pray
Father God, we pray for our nurseries and those who work in them. Thank you, Lord, for watching over our little children. Thank you that you love them. We pray you will help nursery staff in the amazing job they do, creating happy places where our children can be safe and cared for well. Please help the children to settle, make friends, and learn to love and help one another. Lord, hear our prayer.

All: Thank you, God that you are close to us when we pray.

Child (Sarah): Let us pray
Father God, thank you for our primary schools and all those who work in them. Thank you that we are able to get back to school again, and we remember in prayer all the children in the world who have no school to go to. Please encourage our school staff, who do such a brilliant job of running our schools. Help them to adjust to a new routine. Please help all the boys and girls who are starting school for the first time, or who are nervous about returning to school. Help them to settle quickly and know that you are with them. When we are worried like Daniel, remind us that we can turn to you and ask for help. Lord, hear our prayer.

All: Thank you, God that you are close to us when we pray.

Teenager (Ruth): Let us pray
Father God, thank you for the Bible story of Daniel and for his good character, shaped by prayer. Lord, we pray the same might be said of those who work or study in our secondary schools. We pray that we may be people who can be trusted; who work hard; are respectful and kind. Lord, we are grateful for our education. Help us to appreciate those who teach us. As we go back to school please help those who are anxious or afraid. Strengthen our school community, so that we might help and support one another. Lord, hear our prayer.

All: Thank you, God that you are close to us when we pray.

Adult (John): Let us pray
Our heavenly Father, thank you for this service today and for the reminder that prayer shapes, prayer saves. Remind us to pray for our schools, those who work in them, and the children and young people who attend them. We pray for the SU Groups that meet in them, asking that pupils will grasp what a great God you are.

We lift our children to you. We love them, and we want to see them flourish at school. Lord, thank you for sustaining them through the months spent at home. Help them now to readjust and to gladly benefit from being part of a church and school family once more. We ask you to bless our community and our role as a church within it. May our prayers make a difference! Lord, hear our prayer.

All: Thank you, God that you are close to us when we pray. AMEN.

The Lord’s Supper

Jesus invites all Christian who have committed their lives to follow Him to participate in this act of worship. The apostle Paul wrote these words of Scripture in I Corinthians 11:23-26 to guide our observance of Communion.

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: the Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ 25 In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 

Prayer: Choose your own words of prayer to give thanks for the bread and wine that represent the costly gift of His body and blood for us.

Take the bread: Jesus said: ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.

Take the wine: Jesus said: This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’

Our closing song is: ‘How firm a foundation ye saints of the Lord’

Closing Prayer

Thank you Lord for the wonderful assurance that You will never leave us nor forsake us no matter what circumstances in life we are facing. We pray particularly for our children and young people and those who teach them or who support them in their learning in other ways in our nurseries and schools as they are starting back for the new year at this time. We pray too for those seeking places or commencing courses in Higher Education in the near future and those who will teach or assist them in our colleges and universities in the new academic year, that each may have the necessary wisdom to carry out all the tasks entrusted to them

For each one of us we pray for Your strength and enabling grace to live our lives in this coming week, for Jesus’ sake, Amen. 

Benediction:  The Grace

May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God
and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore, Amen