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Shepherds Hill Homestead » Messages » Into the Fire

Into the Fire

 

I often look at current events in our world and try to make sense out of them. There is always some senseless crime committed that confirms the sinful nature of man. I have lived long enough to see our society call good evil and evil good. Things that were once done out of respect for Christians has turned into mockery. Shameful things that were done in the past are now applauded. Anyone who mentions something being morally wrong is called narrow minded, judgmental and legalistic. Denominations of the Christian church that stood as pillars are now removing standards for acceptance in a world that we are to be in, but not of.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about all of this. For some time I floated back and forth thinking that it wasn’t all that bad and then I would realize that it really was. These days are troubling, to be sure. But we serve a God that knows what is next and what the outcome will be. He foretold us about this time in man’s history in His book, the Bible. His words are there to comfort us. In Matthew 24 Jesus gave many things that would be happening at the end of the days. All of these are happening now. There have always been those who doubt and would say that earthquakes and wars have always happened. Do a study sometime on the frequency of earthquakes. You will be shocked at how they have increased in the past 50 years.

Some will still doubt Jesus’ second coming as each day goes by. But one thing is sure. Just as humanity laughed about a man building a huge boat when it had never rained, those who laugh about Jesus coming back to take away all of those who are His will also “miss the boat”.

There was once a respect for Christianity among the rest of the world. The lost knew they were lost and chose to live that way. Christians chose Christ and knew that they had to separate themselves from the world to be His. When I was young I was presented the gospel at the public school I attended by my teacher. He sat all of us down and talked about Jesus and told us that we would have to make a decision one way or another. Teachers are in bondage today if they try to talk about their faith. They may present any other religion but Christianity. Even atheistic views are applauded for free thinking. But if you even mention the Name of Jesus you will have someone slap a lawsuit on you.

How have we gotten so far away? What caused us to fall asleep and let the world tell us what we can and cannot say? If you look at the history of the church you will find a powerful beginning, a challenging middle and a lazy end. At the birth of the church we see supernatural miracles, lives being changed and people set free from sin. In the middle ages you see martyrs who chose to die for Christ instead of denouncing Him and following a religion lead by a man. Our old adversary, the devil, realized that he could not stop the church completely by force. So he is now destroying what he can with a lackadaisical attitude among church members.

I am so saddened by those who will not take a stand. There have always been, I suppose, those who stand in-between right and wrong issues to see what the majority follow. They stand for selfish values and not Godly ones. God has a way that keeps man somewhat in line. He blesses nations, businesses, government, armies, families and individuals that follow Him and His Word. He chastens those that are His and that He loves.

When His people turn their backs on what He said His hand of protection is not there. He allows their enemies to overcome when they make alliance with the enemy. Only when God’s people stand against the enemy does He bless and keep them. We have forgotten this and are now suffering as a people. Follow me to our passage today. In Daniel chapter three is a remarkable story of three young men. They were Jews, God’s people who had been taken into bondage because of the sin of the Nation of Israel. We sometimes have to suffer because of someone else’s sin. Innocent people die at the hand of drunk drivers each week. Innocent people get AIDS after someone else got it through sin. In chapter three we find three young men who had to go through the fire because of the sins of the Nation.

The country is Babylon and the King in charge is Nebuchadnezzar. The Jews were taken here as a prize. They did not belong there but had to live there anyway. It makes me think about being in this world but not of it. The King had come up with a way for everyone to worship. It was a giant gold statue some ninety feet tall. It was built to represent the kingdom that he had dreamed about in chapter two of this same book. He did not listen to the rest of the prophecy that Daniel gave him. I guess he got stuck on the analogy of his kingdom being represented by gold.

This statue stood tall for all to see and worship. The order was given to fall and worship it anytime the instruments were played. Think about this fact for a moment. Please visualize that there were thousands of people who were living in this area that did exactly as the wicked king said. The alternative was to be thrown into a fire within the hour. No questions; just give us a chance to get the furnace going. It’s a pretty tough thing to think about and most today would simply fall down and ask God’s forgiveness later.

Apparently, when everyone fell down to worship this statue there were three brave men who actually defied the king and culture. Can you imagine the looks they must have gotten? They were probably laughed at and even mocked. I’m sure many told them how foolish they were for simply not bowing to look at the ground. I’m sure that the patriots felt that they were unpatriotic. After all, this golden statue represented all of Babylon. It stood as a symbol of the power, control and majesty that was Babylon. It represented the wealth and prosperity that King Nebuchadnezzar wanted his nation to feel. Not paying homage to this statue was an insult to the king and also the people of Babylon.

Everyone wants to fit in, right? We all like to be a part of something or a group that we feel we have something in common with. Standing when everyone else kneels is a hard thing to do; especially when your life is at stake. In verse eight there were certain individuals who were so irritated at the defiance of these three youths that they went to the king. Notice that they were Chaldeans; the same group that could not interpret the vision in chapter two. Perhaps there was some jealously for not being able to interpret the dream. There will always be a group who defy Christians. Notice that even though they benefited from Daniel interpreting the kings dream (their lives were spared) they still hated the Jews.

In our country everyone has benefited from the fact that it was a Christian nation. If you don’t think it is (or was) just look at Arlington Cemetery. Even though our Christian heritage made us into the strong country that we were we are now mocked and our beliefs are devalued. Morals are out the window and religion is fine as long as it isn’t Christianity.

These Chaldeans brought the knowledge to the king that three Jews refused to bow. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were brought in before the king. In verses fourteen and fifteen it sounds as if the king is going to give them a second chance. It was as if to say, “Maybe you didn’t understand what the rules were. I’m sure that when I explain it to you that you will bow down.” The following verse tells us that they understood fully what the consequences were. They told him that they didn’t have any caution in their response. They basically said that God would deliver them and even if He did not, they would not worship this image.

It angered the king when they replied in such manner. He immediately gave command to heat the furnace seven times hotter than it normally was. The three Jews were bound and thrown into the furnace. End of story? Not likely. You see God always honors men that stand for what is right. While it is true that some have been martyred and died in fires for their stance, these three were not. His will is sovereign and often hard to understand. But, rest assured that no martyr that gave his or her life for Jesus is regretting it today!

You know this story. The men who threw these three faithful men into the furnace died from the heat. King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the fire and saw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego along with a fourth person. Their ropes were burned off and they were walking around in the fire. He called them out and everything changed. I want to point out a line in verse twenty-eight. The king said that God changed the words of a king because they “yielded their bodies”. In Romans 12:1 Paul talks about giving your body as a living sacrifice. He goes further to say that it is your reasonable service to God.

We are daily threatened with bowing to a statue. There are governments, people and ideas that taunt us. They present a plan, policy or idea that goes against the Bible. They package it up to even sound logical and good. They get everyone on board before you ever get a chance for rebuttal and if you speak out you will instantly be marked that you are not a team player.  Yes, this gold statue is the symbol of man not needing God. It tells God, “We don’t need you”. It says, “Look at what we did all by ourselves”. When you refuse to bow to that you are a marked person.

I remember a news story of a contestant in a beauty pageant who was asked a moral question and gave a moral answer. The judge who asked the question was offended and voted against her and she lost. Since this event, which was meant to suppress truth, the enemy has made a critical mistake. He believed that if he threatened this young lady with the title to a pageant he could make her go against her beliefs. The devil also thought that if she stood for what was right that she would be burned in the fire of the press. Once again, God has delivered someone from the furnace who dared to stand for what is right. It backfired on the devil and now this lady is headline news talking about standing for what you believe.

In Hebrews 11:24-25 it says that Moses, when he was come to years, chose to refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter but to suffer with the children of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. What a powerful scripture! He denied his heritage. We are not of this world friend. He chose to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. Even if you had great financial prosperity and lived a life of health beginning to end, if you die without Christ you will be most miserable.

These days call for God’s people to stand for what is right, even though the world is bowing down to the image. Though they mock you, stand. Though they put you in ropes, stand. Even if they throw you into the furnace, stand for what is right. The God of the Universe has you. Are you willing to go into the fire?

Prayer- Father, I pray for each person who reads this message that they will have courage to not bow to the devil. May they stand for what is right, even though everyone else bows. Give them peace when the enemy seems to have the upper hand. Let them know that You are still in control.

 

In Jesus’ Name-Amen

 

 

 

 

paul

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Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Filed under: Messages

2 Responses to "Into the Fire"

  1. Lisa E. says:

    A lot to think about. Thanks for sharing, Paul.

  2. It is a serious time we live in, It is because of the common church and its bending like a reed to the golden images of this age, that more and more will the world demand. let your yes be yes and your no be no, everything else is sin. It is a good thing to pray for strength. Yet be built up by the strength of the Lord, when a man uses profanity near an ear of a Christian, or is vulgar, or a women dresses as a harlot and walks as one. We should as soldiers of Christ. We should rebuke them, for rebuke brings shame and shame brings repentance and repentance a change of heart. Speak strong, walk diligently and love deeply. See the sorrows of this age. For we should all weep more than we do.

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