Summary: We are called to live a life that is filled with God’s strength so we can take our stand in this life.
Strength to Stand
April 25, 2004
I. Recognize the need to stand
Life is unpredictable (Read verse 1)
One thing that is certain about life is that it is almost always uncertain. We do not know what the rest of this day hold for us, let alone tomorrow. Situations come up where all of our control is stripped away from us and circumstances arise that catch us off guard. Life often forces us to stand for what we believe or back away from those beliefs. Life has a way of either making us stronger servants for Christ or walk away from His name. When the golden statue was built it did not create a problem but the situation quickly changed.
The problem surfaces (Read verses 4-6)
There comes a demand for pagan worship and to refuse meant certain death. The goal was to cause the people of Israel to compromise their faith by destroying their ability to worship God.
Our society does not have golden statues or force us to worship with the threat of death but if it did would you be strong enough to stand? Our society does create situations where our faith is compromised. The society in which we live is open to everything but the message of the gospel and the Christian faith.
Our society pushes us to compromise in many ways:
· Dishonest Conduct: Our society tells us that there is nothing wrong with the little white lies of life.
· Greed: Our society is focused on the material possessions that this world can offer. We often see an attitude of the one with the most toys wins. Everything is part of this life will pass away and is ultimately worthless.
· Selfishness: our society has selfishness down to an art and we see people serving their own interests with a what’s in it for me attitude. We see the altar built to I, me, my, mine and myself.
The fact is that our society runs counter to our faith and we face the tough choices of placing Jesus first because we are continually pushed to compromise. We live in a world where tow kingdoms are in conflict, the kingdom of this world and the Kingdom of Christ. Which one do you really belong to?
II. Remember that God is in control
Our human nature desires control (Read verses 12-15)
The simple truth is that our human nature is to want control and we want to be in charge of our own lives. If we are honest with ourselves, we even supercede God’s will for our lives at times because we do not obey His guidance. The issue is one of self, our society promotes it and we buy into it.
Nebuchadnezzer was the ultimate control freak. He attempted to control everything and everyone around him, even if it meant killing those who would not obey his wishes. This shows the reality that we live in the midst of kingdoms in conflict.
The True Statement of Control (Read verses 16-18)
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did not attempt to control the situation because it was literally out of their hands. They have a choice to make, either bow down to the wishes of the king and sacrifice their relationship with God or stand for God and trust Him to deliver.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego let go of the situation and placed their trust in God. They believed that God would deliver them, either by sparing them from the fire or by taking them on to heaven but they would not bow down to the idol. It was the ultimate win/win situation and they simply could not lose.
Far too often we follow our gut instead of following God but we need to line ourselves up with His will and obey it whatever the cost. There is nothing more tragic than a believer who gives up faith in the eternal for temporary gain. When we refuse to stand for God, we are saying that He is not worthy of our faith. If we are faithful to God and follow Him, we can’t lose.
III. Rely on God for Strength
The Sentence is Carried Out (Read verses 19-23)
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are sentenced to death and in his rage Nebuchadnezzer has the furnace heated to an extreme blaze. Nebuchadnezzer wanted to destroy these men because of their faith and he wanted to make them an example for their disobedience to his commands. He was out to make them pay for their choice and to accomplish his goal of separating the Israelites from their God.
Our society may try to hurt us for our faith and they may reject us for our beliefs but we are not asked to give up our lives. If it came to that choice could you make it? Just like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego no matter what happens to you in this world, no matter what other people do to you, nothing will ever be able to separate you from God!