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Summary: Much like an optical illusion things are not always as they appear to be. They are supposed to bring happiness, but people go chasing them and are still left wanting, what if there was more...

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How many of you know what an optical illusion is? You are looking at a photo or picture, but everything is not as it seems. Let’s take a look at a few examples (power point). Sometimes we cannot rely on our senses and perception. You may have many things going through your head about your life and what you are going to become and so on. What you don’t know is that there are going to be things that happen without you even knowing, things you have no control over. Many of the things in this life that society tells you will bring happiness and fulfillment don’t. They can be good things, but money, success, marriage, and even family will only give temporary satisfaction. Success is an illusion, look at Robbie Williams checking into an institution for alcohol abuse and depression. Don’t believe everything you see!

There is a story in the book of Daniel about 4 teenagers standing up for what they knew was right and then getting put to death for it. They were captives of the Babylonian empire, they were castrated, robbed of their Hebrew names and forced to give up their heritage. Doesn’t sound fun to me and most people would have been broken.

1) Whatever you’re thinking, God is thinking bigger (ch. 1)

Most people in their situation would have been concerned mostly with staying alive and hoping to be useful enough to stay alive. These teens were not concerned with their situation because they believed in God. They stuck by what they knew to be true and instead of fearing man they feared the Lord. They could never have known the big plans that God had for them. Because they had chosen to be faithful to the Lord, He had given them special abilities to learn quickly and they became important men in the king’s court. The king found their advice to be 10 times better than any of his other advisers (vs.21).

God had bigger plans for them then a jail cell and being a servant. You know that God has bigger plans for your life than you do! No matter what you are thinking or how creative you are you will never top what God’s got in store for you. Isaiah 55:9 says, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” No matter what you think of yourself or the bad situation you’re in God has bigger plans for your life. Don’t believe everything you see!

2) Whatever you’re trying, God has something better (ch.3)

You have to know that with the prestige of the title and position that these guys had been given there must have been a temptation to love the success. They would have been well off financially, popular, and powerful having the ear of the king. This is the dream right! This is what we are supposed to want. Well the day came when God would test whether they loved all this new found success more than Him. The king decided one day to raise a huge statue and decreed that everyone bow and worship it when the music started. This was a problem because these teens only bow and worship one person and that’s God and the king’s officials told on the boys. “Hey, they didn’t bow like you told them to.” Well they didn’t bow and they were punished to be burned alive in the furnace.

I thought you said God has something better than what they had. How is being burned alive better than being rich and powerful? Some people might rationalize that, ‘well maybe we’ll bow because we can be more effective alive than dead.’ These guys were not afraid of the king because their God was greater than any human king (vs.16). The fancy and pleasurable things of this world will never be better than what God has for you. You can be rich and miserable. You can be famous and be depressed, but you can count on joy, peace, purpose and love from God always. Never be afraid to give up what you have for the Lord because it will give Him a chance to show you and the world that He is better!

Jeremiah 29:11

3) Whatever you’re seeing, God sees something brighter (vs.29-30)

They were thrown in and as the fire blazed all that burned were the ropes that bound them. The fire was so hot that when they opened the doors to throw them in it killed the soldiers that threw them in. Within seconds the king saw three men walking around in the fire along with an angel. As they walked out nothing on them was hurt, their clothes was untouched, and they didn’t even smell of smoke. Not only did the king begin to worship their God, but he ordered to the people to worship him too. He then promoted the teens even higher in rank and position.

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