Summary: I want to begin by stating a well known fact...life is full of problems. In fact, Peter calls them fiery ordeals, which is something that I can personally relate to, as many of you can.
BUT IF NOT
Tonight I want to take a look at the topic of faith,. And I want to begin with a passage from 1 Peter 4:12-16...READ
I want to begin by stating a well known fact...life is full of problems. In fact, Peter calls them fiery ordeals, which is something that I can personally relate to, as many of you can.
Peter told the people that he addressed this letter to that the first step toward dealing with life is to stop thinking that difficulties are strange and unusual...in fact, Christians sometimes suffer simply for doing what is good and right. The only guarantee is that tough times will come.
I want to turn back to very familiar O.T. story and I hope it will help us learn something about character and the ways of God that many Christians today do not understand...and is the reason for a lot of instability in Christian lives.
I’m going to be looking at the book of Daniel where we find the story of three men who went through the most famous "fiery trial" of all time. I’m speaking, of course, about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.. but I think I’ll just refer to them as the "Righteous Brothers." (Not related to the singers) so I don’t have to keep using their names.
The Righteous brothers were 3 Jews who were living in Babylon, and in fact held government positions there. Now the king, Nebuchadnezzar, had become obsessed with a dream he had about a huge statue 90 ft. high and 9 ft. wide made of pure gold that would serve as a monument to his great exploits and world power.
Once it was completed he ordered all the citizens of the kingdom to worship it. Now this created a problem for the Jews, because if they would bow down to it, they would have to violate God’s commandment. The most notable violators were these 3 gov’t men.
When the king heard about their defiance he was outraged. He questioned them personally, and gave them one more opportunity to prove their loyalty to him, but the choice was clear...Bow or Burn!
And in verse 15, the king made a little challenge...READ 15b.
Now this set the stage for a mighty declaration of faith from the Righteous brothers...vs 16...in other words, they had considered exactly what it was they were doing...they knew the consequences...and they had not considered this whole situation lightly...(not just shooting from the hip)
Vs 17...But then we get to verse 18, to some of the greatest words of faith ever written...vs 18. Go ahead, light the fire, start the furnace...we will not bow.
Now the king got so mad he heated the furnace 7 times hotter than normal, and he commanded that these 3 Jews be cast into the furnace.
Now the point I want to make this morning is that these 3 Righteous brothers believed not only, as it says in their words, "Our God is able to deliver"...they also believed in the God who could keep his people in the midst of a fire.
"But even if he does not" is a wonderful declaration of faith...one that many are not prepared to make. And that is the reason that many fall by the wayside in this Christian life.
The Righteous brothers did not doubt God’s ability to deliver them. There was no question about this. OUR GOD IS ABLE! But the also accepted the divine, sovereign will of God! And they said, "But if not" ...if there is no deliverance out of the fire...there will be no difference in our commitment of faith.
We will not serve your gods even if you burn us alive...we will not bend our knee. You see, they had a faith in a God that delivers, but an even deeper faith that God is able to keep us even in the midst of fiery trials.
They had a concept of God that many people do not understand today... one that was not just based on escape or deliverance from their problems...but they believed in a God that can give strength and power to endure and remain steadfast and say as Job, "even though He slay me, yet will I serve Him."
They also were not offended by the fiery trial. Now this is something I want to focus on. This has to do with taking offense or being offended at the dealing and actions and the will of God in your behalf.
The righteous brothers did not object to the fact that they had to face the fire...nor did they even question the possibility that deliverance out of the furnace might not happen...they were not offended by it.
What does it mean to be offended? [Hurt, resentful, angry] also a further description...a transgression. Now we all know that we have offended God, by our sins...and that the only way to have that removed is through the blood of Christ.