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Summary: A story of faith, courage and conviction. The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. The courage to stand in the face of death.

INTRODUCTION

• We are in the 3rd part of a series on Daniel.

• We’ve been talking about pressure and culture and living out of core values and loving well.

• Daniel was taken captive and hauled off to Babylon when he was probably 15 or so years old.

• He’s tested and tested again

o Convictions that steer his journey,

o Integrity that lives out his convictions,

o Courage that causes him to pass the tests he faces,

o Prayer that is a lifeline to his Father’s heart,

o Prophecy that is born out of the Holy Spirit’s empowering him to serve.

• Last week we talked about chapter 2.

• The king ordered his magicians to tell him the dream he had and then interpret it. When they couldn’t he ordered all the counselors in the land killed, including Daniel and his three friends.

• But Daniel coolly asks for time. Then prays and God moves in him, with both the dream and the interpretation.

• Staggering prophetic dream that has come true. Four kingdoms: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and finally Rome.

• Daniel carefully honored God when King Nebuchadnezzar gave him credit - 2:24-25

• Then Daniel prophecies that Jesus will come and set up the kingdom of God.

Daniel 2:44-45, “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. 45Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”

• And he wins the king’s heart for a season.

I. TESTED BY FIRE

Daniel chapter 3 probably took place as long as 20 years after chapter 2, so time has passed.

• Chapters 3 and 6 cover two of the most famous stories in the Bible. The lion’s den and the fiery furnace.

• Like those in Exodus: Parting of the Red Sea, the plagues in Egypt, the giving of the Ten Commandments.

• We often skip teaching these stories because they are so dramatic and most of us are not going into a fiery furnace anytime soon or a lion’s den.

• But the principle here is so vital. You don’t end up with a confrontation like this if you don’t live out your convictions with courage.

• These kinds of tests check one thing. It is not your courage level.

• It is your fear level. Who do you fear most, people or God?

• What should we be afraid of? Waking up outside of God’s will.

• Fear being outside of God’s will more than you fear what others find out about you. God already knows and He still loves you.

• When your life is over what story do you want it to tell?

• Tell the story that God is with you, always.

• Fear of God is built alone with God in prayer and worship.

• In Daniel 2:18, you see Daniel and his friends doing that.

• In Chapter 3, you see them living out of that.

• Nebuchadnezzar planned to unify his kingdom by means of religion and fear.

• This was more than a political assembly; it was a worship service, complete with music, and it called for total commitment on the part of the worshippers.

• The word worship is used at least eleven times in the chapter.

• The great multitude of Babylonians, exiles, and representatives from the provinces simply conformed to the edict of the king and did what everybody else was doing.

• There were thousands of Jewish exiles in Babylon and these guys are the only ones to lead, but that is the nature of leadership.

• It takes courage and convictions.

Daniel 3:1-7, “Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold…he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent word to assemble the satraps, the prefects and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates and all the rulers of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. …4Then the herald loudly proclaimed: “To you the command is given, O peoples, nations and men of every language, 5that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up. 6 But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire…”

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