Summary: How tempting to compromise the Christian faith to fit in with the world around us! How do we stand tall, trusting our God, despite the insults and ridicule? A. Serve him no matter how fearful the threats. B. We serve him trusting his merciful power.

Text: Daniel 3:13-27

Theme: Serve Only the God Who Can Save

A. Serve him no matter how fearful the threats

B. We serve him trusting his merciful power

Season: Epiphany 4a

Date: January 30, 2011

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The Word from God through which the Holy Spirit leads us to serve Jesus is Daniel 3.

"Then in angry rage Nebuchadnezzar ordered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be brought to him. Then these men brought them before the king. He said to them, "How is it, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you are not worshiping my gods and not bowing down to the golden image I've set up? Now, if at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, zither, harp, pipes, and all kinds of music -- if you are ready to fall down and bow before the image I've made, fine. If you do not bow down at that instant, you shall be thrown into the midst of the blazing, fiery furnace. What god is there who can save you from my hands."

"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king " O Nebuchadnezzar, it's not necessary for us to answer to you in this matter. If it so happens, our God, whom we serve, is able to save us from the blazing, fiery furnace and can save us from your hand, O king. If he doesn't, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not worship your gods, and we will not bow down to the golden image you've set up."

"Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with anger, and the appearance of his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. In response he ordered for the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than it was usually heated. He ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to cast them into the burning, fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their robes, pants, turbans, and other clothing and were thrown into the midst of the blazing, fiery furnace. Now because the king's order was so urgent and the furnace so hot, the flames of the fire killed these men who had taken up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. So these three, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the midst of the blazing, fiery furnace.

"Then King Nebuchadnezzar sprung up amazed. He asked his counselors, "Did we not throw three men into the fire bound?"

"They answered the king, "Truly, O king."

"He answered, "What's this am seeing! Four men walking around loose in the midst of the fire. They're unharmed. And the fourth looks like a son of the gods."

"Then Nebuchadnezzar came close to the entrance of the blazing, fiery furnace and said, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out and come forth. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire."

"The satraps, prefects, governors, and counselors of the king gathered around and looked at these men whose bodies weren't injured by the fire. Their hair wasn't singed, and their robes weren't scorched. The smell of fire wasn't on them." (Daniel 3:13-27)

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

A young lady from China comes to the United States to get her degree. At the university she's curious about these Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter. She looks into campus ministry groups, and a WELS pastor tells her about Jesus, God's Son, our Savior, who came to this earth born as a baby and who died for our sins and rose from the dead for our salvation.

As that Good News of forgiveness in Jesus is shared with her during her stay, the Holy Spirit brings her to believe and trust in Jesus, her God and Savior. But what will she do when she returns home? Revert back to her family religion? Join the official Christian church which can only teach what the government says it can and so has lost much of the truth? Or will she hold to her faith quietly joining with like-minded Christians, sharing the Gospel as the opportunity allows? That could put into jeopardy her career she's trained so hard for. It could alienate her from family and friends. Yes, it even could put her at risk for arrest and imprisonment. What would you do? "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of God" (Matthew 5:10 NIV-1984).

Another student goes to that university from a small town in America's heartland. He's celebrated Christmas and Easter all his life. He's learned about Jesus from Dad and Mom and in Sunday school week after week. After confirmation he was active in the youth group. Everyone was so encouraging.

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