First Church of God in Harvey
Sunday Morning - October 7th, 2012
Let us pray
Last Sunday we were blessed at our Annual Women’s Day Service, as our speaker spoke on one hope. She spoke about a woman who apparently was hopeless, but when she met the man call Jesus, the one who is our Savior and Lord, somehow hope came alive, and she left everything to go and share the love of God with others. I want to encourage somebody here today, to keep hope alive. Things are not as bad as it appears to be. Things are not hopeless as some might say, because when Jesus is by your side, when Je-sus is your guide, there is hope….
Today we are going to talk about three young men, who it appears had no hope as far as this physical life was concerned. It appeared things were not going so well, but in the midst of what might have been a bad situation, they had God on their side, they had hope, and things were not as bad as it appeared to be. The psalmist writes in psalm 42 verse 5, “Why are thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted (to make uneasy) in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.”
Our scripture reading for today will be taken from Isaiah 43 verse 2, and Daniel 3: verses 10 through 30.
Our topic for today is, “In the midst of the fire.” Number 1…In the midst of the fire you can walk; Number 2….in the midst of the fire you wont be hurt; and Number 3….in the midst of the fire you are secure,
Let’s look again at Isaiah 43 verse 2. In the Life Application Study Bible , Isaiah 43 verse 2 reads like this, “When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Saints of God we are well protected. We have full coverage. We have water protection. We have river protection. We have fire protection. We do not have to worry, God has everything under control. “Going through rivers of difficulty will either cause you to drown or force you to grow stronger. If you go in your own strength, you are more likely to drown. If you invite the Lord to go with you, he will protect you.” .......…
A few weeks ago I was listening to the radio, and I heard the term being used, “Bogus Christianity.” The words got my attention, because there are many today who say they are Christians, but who are living the life of a bogus Christian. That word bogus has to do with not real, doubtful, false, fake, counterfeit)) A bogus Christian is one who will stand for nothing, and who will fall for anything. A bogus Christian is one who will run when the fire gets hot, but who will stick around when things are going easy. A bogus Christian is one who will blend in with the world, they will walk like the world, they will talk like the world, they will act like the world, and on Sundays for a few hours, they will forget about the world, but come Monday bright and early they are back with the world.
In our text for today is the story of three young men, who would not fit the profile of being bogus, but they were authentic in what they believe, and were willing to die for what they believe. These men when they were called upon to worship, they refused to worship, because they did not know how to worship a false god. These three young men, the servants of God were spied upon, they were being watched very closely. When you are a child of God, you are being watched very closely. If all the time people are just saying good things about you, and never say anything negative, something could be wrong. We don’t do things for people to say negative things about us, but just being a Christian, just being a child of God, just being different from the world, will cause others who don’t know the Lord to say negative things about you, and me……people are going to talk about you, people are ........
In our text we find that the king was reminded of what he was supposed to do. He was reminded of the decree that he had made. He was reminded that every man that hear the sound of the music being played should fall down and worship the golden image. He was reminded that there was a penalty for anyone who did not fall down and worship the golden image, that person would be cast into a burning fiery furnace.
Well, O king live for ever, we have reminded you what the law has stated, and we have found out that there are certain Jews, the ones whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, whose names are Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, these men, O king, have not regarded thee, they have not served thy gods, and they have not worship the golden image thou hast set up. I can hear them saying, O king, can you imagine that, can you believe that? But it is all true. They made it sound in such a way that not only have these alien “Jews” disobeyed the command but have “disregarded the very person of the king himself to whom they owed their favored position and authority.” “We don’t know if other Jews refused to fall down and worship the statue, but these three men were singled out as public examples.” Why didn’t they just bow to the image, and then tell God they really did not mean to do it? These men had determined that they would not worship another god, and they took their stand for what they believe. …….elaborate…..
Nebuchadnezzar, the king when he heard the charges he became mad, he simple lost control. “How could anyone dare disobey his commands?” His pride and self esteem was being attacked, because his law was not obeyed. He called in Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego for them to answer for themselves. A very simple question, “Is it true, O Shadrach. Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?” By the way, let’s forget about what happened, and let’s try it again. These three men were given one more chance, they were given a second chance. When you hear the sound of the music, if you fall down and worship the image which I have made, then all will be well, but if you worship not, you will be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace, “and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?”
Here are eight excuses that have been suggested that these three young men could have used to bow to the statue and save their lives. (1) “We will fall down but not actually worship the idol.’ (2) “We won’t become idol worshippers but will worship it this one time, and then ask God for forgiveness.’ (3) ‘the king has absolute power, and we must obey him.” (4) “The king appointed us – we owe this to him.” (5) “This is a foreign land, so God will excuse us for following the customs of the land.” Some of us would even say, when you are in Rome you do what the Romans do. (6) “Our ancestors setup idols in God’s Temple! This isn’t half as bad!” (7) “We’re not hurting anybody.” (8) “If we get ourselves killed and some pagans take our high positions, they won’t help our people in exile!”
These excuses might have sounded good, but they were dangerous. Falling down and worship the statue would violate God’s command in Exodus 20 verse 3, ‘Do not worship any other gods beside me.” “It would also erase their testimony for God forever.” They would never again be able to talk about the power of the God they served over other gods. What excuses do we use for standing up for him ?
If you and I had to stand up for what we believe or face the consequences, what would our answer be? All over America, and in many parts of the world, people know how to get their praise on, some are genuine worship, and some could be classified as bogus worship. If the truth be told, many of us would be somewhat shaky as to what to do, bow to the music or face a burning fiery furnace; bow to the music or be ridiculed by our friends, bow to the music or loose our only source of income, bow to the music and you might fill in the blank.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego “were pressured to deny God,” but they did not have to call a conference. They did not have to check with the deacon board or the elder board as we have today to get their ideas. They did not have to check with the ministerial board, or some other board to see what they have to say. These men choose to be faithful to God no matter what happened to them. These men had a direct line of contact from earth to God’s throne. On this line they had no call waiting. On this line there was no voice mail for them to call back later. On this line there was no call forwarding. I want to tell somebody today that as God’s child you too have a direct line from earth to heaven, and when you call you will not get a busy signal. When you call you will not hear a voice saying the mail box is full. When you call you will hear the voice of the chief operator, the one who is Lord, the one who is Master, the one who is our Redeemer saying, may I help you? Glory to God. The Bible says in Isaiah 65 verse 24, “And it shall come to pass, that before they call I will answer; and while they are yet speaking I will hear.” Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did not have to worry ,because before they call they had the answer. What a mighty God we serve….elaborate…
Tell me Shadrach, tell me Meshach, tell me Abednego, what are you going to do? King, “we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.” We are guilty as charged. We will not try in anyway to defend ourselves and avoid the consequences. We want you to know the facts. We want you to know where we stand. We want you to know about the God whom we serve. Here “is one of the noblest statements of faith and loyalty found in the Bible.” If it be so, and God sees fit to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, then he will deliver us out of thine hand. On the other hand if he does not see fit to deliver us, we want you to know that “we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” If we die it’s alright; if we live it’s alright, whether we die or live, we will not bow or worship your gods. It was Charles W. Naylor who penned these words based on Romans 8 verses 35 through 39, “Whether I live or die, Whether I wake or sleep, Whether upon the land, Or on the stormy deep; When ‘tis serene and calm, Or when the wild winds blow, I shall not be afraid – I am the Lord’s I know.”
It is time for us as Christians to stand up for what we believe.. It is time for us to stand up for the truth. It is time for us to speak out against unrighteousness. It is time for us to let our light shine in all those dark places. God is looking for men, for women, for boys and girls to come and stand in the gap. He is looking for people whom he can use, he is looking for you and for me to be faithful to the cause. In Ezekiel 22 verse 30 we read, “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up a hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none.”
These three young men were not afraid to speak out for what they believe despite the consequences. You thought Nebuchadnezzar was mad the first time, yes he was mad, but this time he was really mad, the bible says he was full of fury, and the form of his visage (his facial expression; his countenance) was changed. Have you ever been really mad? When you are mad, it will show on your face. Sometimes people are coming to God’s house and they are mad, how do we know because it shows on their face. By the way, are you mad? If you are, it will show on your face.
In his madness, in his anger, Nebuchadnezzar commanded that the furnace be heated seven times more .than it was to be heated. If it was saying 300 degrees, it would now be saying 2100 degrees. It seems to me the king was not thinking correctly. When you are really mad it will cause you to do strange things. He then made another command that the most mighty men in his army would bind Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and cast them in the burning fiery furnace. Here were God’s three young men, men who were not afraid to stand up for what they believe, bound in their coats, their hosen, their hats and their garments. It is said that, “victims to be burned are usually stripped of their clothes, but the infuriated king will have no delay . The three youths are cast full clothed into the fire.”
Here is something amazing, “the heat coming from the furnace was so intense that it killed the soldiers…” These soldiers could not take the heat, but Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew how to take the heat. I want to tell somebody here today, as a Christian you better know how to take the heat, whatever the heat may be. Maybe right now as God’s child the heat is intense. It seems the heat has been turned up several notches. It seems you almost caved in, but just wait a little longer there is victory on the other side. Don’t you give up, there is victory on the other side. Don’t throw in the towel, there is victory on the other side.
These three young men who were servants of the most high God were cast into the burning fiery furnace, and they fell down in the burning fiery furnace. In that burning fiery furnace, in that intense heat something happened. In that burning fiery furnace God intervened. In that burning fiery furnace there was a miracle. The king was sitting watching what was going on, and suddenly he got up with astonishment, his rage was turned into amazement, and he asked his counselors, “Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered that is true O king. Well if we cast three men in the midst of the burning fiery furnace, unless my eyes are playing tricks, I see four men, they are not bound, but they are loose, they are not staggering, but they are walking in the midst of the fire. Men don’t walk in the midst of the fire. Men do not escape in the midst of the fire. That just do not happen . It is unheard of, but when God is in the midst of the fire with you, you will walk in the fire.
I wonder if there is someone here today, you are going through your fiery trials; it seems that you just don’t know what to do, in the fire there is a fourth man, and he wants to walk with you. The Bible says “when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned.” In the midst of the fire you can walk. Do you feel like walking? then walk. Do you feel like shouting? Then shout. Do you feel like praising the Lord? then praise the Lord. David writes in psalm 23 verse 4, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Saints we have that divine protection, and in the midst of the fire we can walk. David writes in psalm 34 verse 7, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.” Saints we are divinely protected by angels, and so in the midst of the fire we can walk.
It is somewhat uncertain who the fourth man was in the midst of the fire. Some believe it was an angel. Some believe it was God’s son in pre-incarnate human form. There is one thing we are sure of, the fourth man was a deliverer, and he delivered the three Hebrew boys. These three young men were cast down in a burning fiery furnace, but now they are unbound, and walking. In the midst of the fire. I am so glad that the God whom I serve is a deliverer. “I was sinking deep in sin, Far from the peaceful shore, Very deeply stained within, Sinking to rise no more, But the Master of the sea, Heard my despairing cry, From the waters lifted me, Now safe am I.” Love lifted me. It was not my goodness, but love lifted me, when nothing else could help, love lifted me…..
These three young men were walking, not only were they walking, but they were not hurt. People who have been in the fire, normally comes out hurt. They have burns to show that they have been in the fire. They have to go and see a specialist to take care of the burns. They have to be hospitalized; they have to be bandaged up, they have to take pain medication to ease the pain. In our text it says, “when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned.” This does not make sense to some people, because most of us know that fire burns. These men were thrown in the fire apparently helpless, because they were bound, but in the midst of the fire the fourth man was there to help, and they were not hurt. I want to tell someone today, in the midst of the fire you will not be hurt.
In the midst of the fire you will not be hurt. In the midst of the fire there is a Divine presence. In the midst of the fire there is a fourth man. Maybe right now you feel you are going under. Maybe right now the pressure seems more than you can bear The same God who protected Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fire, is our God today. He is the same yesterday, today and for ever. The God whom we serve never changes. Man may change, but Jesus never, glory to his name.
The king saw something that astonished him. The king saw something that amazed him, and so he went near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and he called out to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and gave them a command, “ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither.” This thought came to me, at the king’s first command to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego they disobeyed, and were cast into a burning fiery furnace. At the king’s second command, they obeyed and walked out of the fiery furnace.
In the midst of the fire you are secure. These three men walked out of a burning fiery furnace, and the Bible says in verse 27 of our text, “And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their hair singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire passed on them.” These men had been in the fire, but they were secure. “…when thou walkest through the fire thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” The fire was still burning before them, but the fire had not left even the smell of smoke upon their garments.
Somebody here today might have gone through the fire over the past few days, and maybe still is in the midst of the fire, but only God knows what you have gone through, or is still going through, and he will see you through. Somebody right now might be in the midst of a storm, the billows and the waves are dashing, but I want to let you know that victory will be yours as long as the fourth man, the deliverer is with you. In the midst of the fire you can walk. In the midst of the fire you wont be hurt. In the midst of the fire you are secure.
These three young men, the servants of the most high God, came out of a burning fiery furnace that had destroyed those who had cast them in, they came out completely untouched by the fire. The ropes that bound them were burnt up, but they were safe. It is said that, “no human can bind us if God wants us to be free.” That same power that delivered Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from a burning fiery furnace, and raised Christ from the dead, that same power is available to us today. God wants us to trust him in every situation. Maybe right now you just cannot understand why you are going through what you are going through, but can you trust God? We do not have to bow to the music, but we can trust God. We do not have to follow the world and its attractions, but we can trust God. In the midst of the fire can you truly trust God. Can you trust God today, knowing that whatever happens he will care for you. Can you trust God knowing that the future is in his hands? Can you trust God today, knowing that his words are true “that all things work together for good to them that love God..” If that is your desire to completely put your trust in God, I would invite you to come, and let’s pray together.
Let us all stand
Call to discipleship