Scripture: Daniel 3:1-30
Focus Verse: Daniel 3:17-18
“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.”
Have you ever had your faith challenged by someone? Maybe you have worked or are working in a place that forbids the mentioning of God. Maybe you are in a relationship with a person that doesn’t believe in God and is frustrated by the thought of their partner going to church or praying. Maybe you have a “Jesus” bumper sticker on your car and someone makes a comment to you in the parking lot of the store. Maybe you have recently come to faith and your family mocks you at holiday parties. Maybe you repeatedly try to talk to your friend about Christ and they not only don’t listen, but they begin to reach out to you less and less.
Whatever the circumstance, this world struggles to accept the Truth. In fact, this world is slowly trying to ban God from everything and everywhere. The latest attempt that hit the news was NASA’s decision to ban the use of “Jesus” in Johnson Space Center’s Praise & Worship club announcements. These announcements are sent out to all staff in the company newsletter via email and were found offensive by some. We also know that schools are still fighting to this day as to whether they will allow students to pledge the flag as a student body, because of the line “one nation under God.” This nation and world are working in the direction of an anti-Jesus culture whether you believe it or not.
I remember working with a company when I was in college and facing negative remarks about my faith. At the time, I had recently begun to really invest in my walk with God. Still fragile in my faith, men at work would tell me there was no God and one guy even went as far as calling himself a god. They would often encourage behavior that was not “Christian-like,” and I had to make daily choices as to whether I was going to face the verbal persecution and stand firm in my faith, or give in and have them leave me alone or pat me on the back for collapsing to peer pressure. I would like to say that I stood like a rock day after day, but sadly I failed more than I succeeded. Persecution is around every corner and takes many shapes and forms.
In Daniel 3, we read about King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian Empire. The King had created a massive golden image for people to worship. He not only encouraged this practice, he demanded it. A decree was published that forbid people within the empire to praise another god, and required all to worship this image at the sound of a musical signal. One day, three men refused to worship the image: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The king told them they would be sent to a fiery furnace if they did not obey, and their response was rich, “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.” They were so confident that God controlled the situation, whether it was His Will to save them in that moment or for all of eternity.
These three men did not care about persecution. If anything, they welcomed it. The king challenging their faith only presented an opportunity for the true King’s power to be displayed and all glory to be turned to Him. As a result, the men were cast into the fiery judgment, but the Lord was with them and allowed no physical harm to come to them because of their faith and devotion.
What persecution is keeping you from being completely devoted to God? Do you trust that the Lord is in control of all things? Put your faith in Him and watch as His power is revealed. Know that He will rescue you, and even if He does not save you in that moment of persecution, stand firm and believe that He is faithful and still present with you in the “blazing furnace” waiting for his moment.
Lord, in times of persecution, be the courage that runs through my veins. Be glorified in moments that I refuse to bow down to intimidation. May I always proclaim your truth and live for you in all circumstances. In Your Holy and Saving Name I pray, Amen.