Summary: Self-help exercises for increasing your confidence, based on Daniel chapter three.
The story of the three Hebrew children being delivered from the fiery furnace is such a spectacular story we just might overlook the theme of this chapter. We might think it’s all about deliverance from trials. But don’t miss the real intent of the event.
The story isn’t just about deliverance, it’s about worship and how true worship blesses God and us!
The king wanted everyone to worship his golden statue but the Hebrews would not acquiesce. The question is: Where did they obtain the confidence to stand against such a powerful earthly king in the face of such enormous potential consequences?
Here’s the answer. They would not bow to anyone but God. That is THE KEY TO CONFIDENCE. It is tied to who we worship. [Note: The word "worship" appears eleven times in Daniel chapter three.]
We all need confidence. That quality of assurance that we are doing the right thing at the right time. The ability to remain on track when pressures, pains and problems tend to topple us. Some among us have experienced the erosion of our confidence for various reasons. We wonder why others are able to appear unphased by the setbacks of life.
This familiar Bible account reminds us that the confidence we need is not "self-confidence". The Babylonian king was eaten up with that. He most likely constructed the image in this story as a tribute to himself. You might say he was over-confident.
No, the Hebrews didn’t just have self-confidence they had something even better; they had "God-confidence". Their worldview was not self-centered but rather God-centered, and it made all the difference in the world when it came to their knowing what to do when the pressure was on.
Do you know what to do in difficult situations or do you just sigh and wait for the clouds to pass? Do you know where the wisdom comes from for tough decisions? Can you stand when everyone else is bowing?
Here are several practical insights offered by the example of our three heroic Hebrews.
1. Realize you belong to God. (Daniel 3:1-12)
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were confident because they knew they belonged to God. They did not belong to Nebuchadnezzar. They didn’t belong to the state. The other folks in the crowd that day didn’t belong to the king or his kingdom either, but they didn’t know that. That’s why they were full of fear and why the king was able to exploit them.
Each of us belongs to God because He created us and gives everything essential for life. He loves each one of us and wants what’s best for us.
We don’t have to vacillate from one idea or opinion to another. We can have a stable life in the confidence that the God to whom we belong will lead us in the right way if we will worship Him alone.
Each of us needs to accept and abide in God’s grace. Grace is God’s way of giving us His blessings even though we haven’t earned them, even though we don’t deserve them.
Like the story told by Denise Banderman of Hannibal, Missouri.
"I needed more study time before my final exam in the youth ministry class at Hannibal-LaGrange (Mo.) College. When I got to class, everybody was cramming. The teacher, Dr. Tom Hufty, came in and said he would review with us before the test. Most of his review came from the study guide, but some things he said I’d not heard. Dr. Hufty responded they were in the book and we were responsible for everything in the book. We couldn’t argue with that.
Finally it was time to take the test. "Leave them face down on the desk until everyone has one, and I’ll tell you to start," our professor instructed.
When we turned them over, to my astonishment every answer was filled in. My name was written in red ink. The last page said: "This is the end of the exam. All the answers on your test are correct. You will receive an A. The reason you passed the test is because the creator of the test took it for you. All the work you did in preparation for the test did not help you get the A. You have just experienced grace."
Dr. Hufty then went around the room and asked each student, "What is your grade? Do you deserve the grade you are receiving? How much did all your studying for this exam help you achieve your final grade?"
Then he said, "Some things you learn from lectures, some from research, but some things you only learn from experience. You’ve just experienced grace. Years from now, if you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, your name will be written in a book, and you will have had nothing to do with writing it there. That is the ultimate grace experience."