Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Fatih is Faith is rooted in God’s WORD, realizing life has WOUNDS, remembering God’s WORKS and resting in God’s WILL


Gladys Aylward was a missionary to China more than fifty years ago. She was forced to flee the city she was living in when the Japanese invaded during World War II. She could not leave the orphans she cared for behind and so with only one assistant, she led more than a hundred of them over the mountains toward Free China. During this terrible trip she grappled with despair as never before. After passing a sleepless night, she faced the morning with no hope of reaching safety. A 13-year-old girl in the group reminded her of their much-loved story of Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. "'But I am not Moses,' Gladys cried in desperation. 'Of course you aren't,' the girl said, 'but Jehovah is still God!'" When Gladys and the orphans made it through, they proved once again that no matter how inadequate we feel, God is still God, and we can trust in him.

Dan 3:15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?" 16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." 19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king's command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace. 24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, "Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?" They replied, "Certainly, O king." 25 He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods." 26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!" So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

Most of the time in life obscurity is better than standing out in a crowd. For example, in the TV show Survivor, the people who usually make it to the end are the ones who do not stand out and make waves. Going against the flow is always the more difficult path to take. I remember taking the Beijing subway during rush hour with 12 people and all our luggage. As we were trying to get out it seemed the whole country was trying to get in. When you go against the flow you stick out and in battle anything that sticks out is a target. However, sticking out is what has called us to.

Romans 12: 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will.

When I was in university I had a shirt I would wear that said “Go Against the Flow”. It was a reminder to me that I was called to be different. As Christians we are under tremendous pressure to conform to the standards of the world. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had a decision to make. They could bow down and blend in like all the others or they could stand up for what they believed in and face the consequences.

That is a choice each one of us has to make daily. To go with the flow and be unnoticed or to stand up for what we believe in and become a target for persecution. Going against the flow and having to face the furnace takes faith.

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