Tuesday, August 31, 2010

faith to death

Set the scene:
King Nebuchadnezzar has built a statue of gold that stands 90 feet tall.
This is to represent his god.
He makes a decree that all those in his kingdom must bow before and worship this statue when they hear the music played.
Because King Nebuchadnezzar is the most powerful king at this time no one refuses.
It doesn't hurt that he threatened those who refused to be thrown into a blazing furnace.
With that, no one refuses.
So he thinks...
99% of the kingdom followed this decree.
the 1% was brought before the king.

the king in all his power and might stood confidently and was willing to give these rebels another chance.
if they fell down before the idol at the next hearing of the music then all things would be fine and well.
if not, it was to the blazing furnace.
these rebels: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
outweighing the confidence of the king they stood before him and replied to his offer:

"O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

now this would be a bold statement coming from anyone but there is a major factor in play here:
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are exiles.
so they are not speaking boldly to just any king.
these men are not the King's people so disposing of them is not a matter at all.

these three men basically looked at the king and said without saying
"You know what king, we appreciate all the great things you've done for us and all but the way of life we had back at home...well, we prefer it. We aren't going to follow your rules to worship a different god than ours even though you have the authority to kill us. So go ahead, throw us in the fire and see what happens."

that's what I hear when I read this story.
they were not consumed with the threat.
rather, their consumption was God.

they saw that it was more important to stand for the One True God rather than fear death.
think about it, all they needed to do was bow down to a statue to live.
music plays, bow down, continue on with life.
refuse to bow before a false god and be thrown into a blazing furnace.

as the story goes,
they were thrown in the furnace but God saved them. Because of their faith the King praised their God.
I encourage you to read the story in Daniel. read chapter 1-3 to get the big picture.

Set the Scene:


we went over this story in class the other day and it had my mind turning.
do we have this same faith today?
chances of us even being threatened with a blazing furnace are pretty low.
but we all know that there are many things that can bring out or hide our faith today.

here's what I was really thinking about the most:
how is it that a blazing furnace didn't stop those men from standing with faith in the One True God
and today we let so many simple things put our faith into hiding.

people don't even have to threaten us. they don't even have to make fun.
to be honest we don't usually get to the point of being threatened because we don't stand up against anything.

"but Ashley there aren't things like in that story to stand up against"
 don't overlook the work of the enemy.
anything and everything that affect our ethics and morals.

here is how we have to look at it:
in any situation we have the opportunity to either reflect God or reflect the world.
and yes it takes faith.
because when we reflect God we are going to stand out.
but isn't it worth it?

I don't know about you but I would much rather stand out in this world as different instead of just being another Christian that cares more about my reputation than the Lord of Lord's glory.

those 3 men were radical.
it was obvious.
we don't have to be faced with death to be radical.

tell me it wouldn't be radical to live a life that stood for Jesus no matter what.
in small things.
in big things.
in all things Jesus.

it could be a small conversation to you but it could be a huge seed of God for the other person.
it could just become your lifestyle.

but the question does remain:
would you stand in faith even to the point of death?
could you look the enemy in the eyes and tell them that it doesn't matter what they do because your God is Lord of all and He will be glorified in this place?

"we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter"

can you say that?

"we want you to know"

will you tell them who God is?

so the challenge is to face the furnace,
whether you are saved from the fire or not.
stand for God in all matters.
everywhere you go.

I want to live by this: 
to live a radical life doesn't mean you do one great thing for God that everyone hears about. rather, it means everything you do adds up to a radical difference between you and the world. everything adds up to a God sized difference of faith.