Facing the Fire (1)
"Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego." Daniel 3:28 NIV
It's easier to 'risk it all' when there's little to risk. Success always raises the stakes. The higher you climb, the more the Nebuchadnezzars of this world will claim to have control over what you lose and what you keep. Their threats will sound real and the consequences of ignoring them, intimidating. That's what happened to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Their commitment to God landed them in a fiery furnace. It also brought them out and promoted them to a higher level of blessing. There's a lesson there for you.
For something to be an authentic test of character, it must be a situation in which the outcome is entirely out of your hands. You simply make the choice to do what's right before God; then leave the consequences in His hands. It's a trial by fire (a fire of refinement), and on the other side of it you'll be better and stronger.
Each time you make the right decision, choosing to embrace rather than escape the consequences, you enter a new level of freedom. You're: (1) free from the threats of those who claim to have control over the outcomes of your life; (2) free to say 'no' to those who'd abuse their authority by attempting to manipulate you; (3) free to serve your all-powerful King and to say no to all the other would-be kings who are just blowing hot air!
In that moment of decision, you not only gain insight into who you are, but more importantly - Whose you are!
Facing The Fire (2)
"Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us." Daniel 3:17
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were set for life. They'd nothing to gain by challenging the king. So why did they? Because he ordered them to violate their convictions by bowing before his pagan image. No doubt they could've said, "Better a live dog than a dead lion. If we stay alive, we can do some good for God and others." That line would have sold most of us, but not them. Why?
Because they understood that Nebuchadnezzar wasn't the reason for their success! He may have been the instrument God used to bless them, but he wasn't the source. Their blessings came from God - and they understood that you can't abandon the principles of God and still maintain the blessings of God. Why grieve or disobey the One who controls everything, to get along with somebody who only thinks he controls everything?
There'll always be those in your life who think they're big enough to control your future. But you know better, don't you? "Our God... is able to deliver us... out of thine hand, O king" (Dan 3:17). God controls our outcomes! He's also bigger than those who think they control our outcomes. By refusing to bow, when bowing seemed their only option, these three slave boys radically influenced a pagan king and turned the hearts of an entire nation to Jehovah. Not bad - eh? Now maybe your influence won't be that widespread, but one thing you can count on: others are watching who'll be greatly impacted by the stand you take!
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