Be a Daniel (Through the Fire)
This week we will be continuing our series of study in the book of Daniel. We will learn of the faith of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, otherwise known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They stood firm in their faith in The GOD of Heaven when faced with fire and we like them, can stand firm in our faith when facing fiery trials which are to try us. I pray this lesson is as much a blessing to you as it was to me when I learned it. I love you all and I am praying for you. Please continue to pray for me.
We will begin our study in Daniel chapter 3.
4Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, 5That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery,
dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: 6And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast
into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 7Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the
people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.”
In our lessons thus far in the book of Daniel we have been making parallels from Babylon in Daniel’s day to the world and society we live in. We have found much the same mentality in this present time as it was back in Babylon. Keeping that in mind, we ask, where in the world did King Nebuchadnezzar get such an idea to build an image of this magnitude? .
Babylon was all about building up a name for oneself or building up ones image. Just as King Nebuchadnezzar did, and this is very true in the world around us today. Advertisements are all about trying to get us to buy products that make our image better; we are all about making ourselves appear more amazing than we really are. Not just with our looks but with our status in life, our jobs, and our possessions. This world is all about impressions and making ourselves appear much grander, more popular, brighter, and richer than we really are. It’s all a façade. We should not be so concerned with how we look to others that we begin to lie about who we really are. We should be who GOD made us to be. Our priority should be in being the people GOD wants us to be.
We are talking about Image Builders here, building up our own images. You may be asking, how would one know if he/she was an image builder? I hope you are asking this to yourself because if you are, it means you have a desire to want to be genuine. Now in searching our hearts about this, what we do not want to do is to become under slavery of guilt and condemnation. What we do want is conviction in our hearts to become what we really are in CHRIST JESUS.
Now the way to find out if you are in fact an image builder is to search your own heart and if you and I, are any different around others than what we are alone, then we are image builders. If we are really different than what we appear to be around others, we are portraying a false image. That’s not to say that we have to tell everyone our inner most heart or that we have to tell all in public, there are some things that should be kept between us and GOD, but we are placed here to be true, to be sincere and real. We should be the same person at home that we are at church. We should not be screaming and fussing and complaining on the way to church, and then going into church pretending to be little angels, only to fuss, argue, and complain etc. all the way back home and for the rest of the week! We should be changed. Yes, there will be times when we fall, but honest repentance and striving to be a good servant of GOD, whether in church or at home, is what we are to be. Amen. We should be even more intimate with GOD when we are alone, and at home then we ever are in public. Real intimacy with JESUS CHRIST will show in public if it is real and true in our everyday lives. He will shine through us if we get ourselves out of the way. Picture an eclipse in our solar system, a blockage of the sun. The sun’s light can’t shine through. We, many times if we are not very aware and careful, can have a spiritual eclipse to where we block THE SON trying to build ourselves up, and HE is blocked in our lives. It is only when we step out of the way and let HIM overtake us, that HE will shine brightly through our lives! That is what we want! We are to lift up the name of JESUS CHRIST in every word and deed.
So where did King Nebuchadnezzar get the idea for this great image he set up? He was definitely an image builder. Remember the dream we studied in Daniel chapter 2? That is exactly where he got the idea. Let’s review Daniel chapter 2 for those who may just be starting with us.
Daniel 2:31-33 31Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. 32This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, 33His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.”
Daniel 2:37-38 37Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. 38And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.”
Daniel had revealed the meaning of the image in the king’s dream. He had told King Nebuchadnezzar that his kingdom was represented as the head of gold, just the head mind you, but about sixteen years had passed and the king saw no signs of a silver kingdom taking over, or a brass or iron one, so he apparently got it in his mind that his kingdom was so powerful and great that GOD was wrong, that he was invincible and nothing could shatter his empire. And so he built this image, a monument to himself, saying I am King and no other will over throw me, none will be like me. He had the audacity to try to make everyone in the kingdom bow down to his image as if he were GOD.
In our world today, isn’t that what so many people are trying to do? So many are trying to be their own god? Trying to raise themselves up above everyone else so that others will praise them? It is the nature of this flesh to be puffed up in pride and to think that we are something great. We like praise and prestige. However God tells us in His word what we should strive to make ourselves in the image of.
Romans 8:29 “For whom HE did foreknow, HE also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of HIS SON, that HE might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
The image of GOD’S only begotten SON JESUS CHRIST is image we should strive to be like. Not just pretending to be like HIM, but honestly striving to be more like HIM in every word and deed. When we are around others and when we are alone in the dead of night. That’s what the Holy Spirit is here for. He is our comforter and our helper. He has started this work in us. To make us like JESUS… To be like JESUS! Praise The LORD…HE IS WORTHY! JESUS is the ultimate role model!
Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”
Satan fights against this every way he can, and we are foolish if we give in to him and to self. We are wise to walk in the spirit like Galatians 5:16 tells us to do so that we can become more and more like JESUS every day that we live and breathe! That is the goal! So yes let us be image builders, but only with the goal of being just like JESUS CHRIST our perfect example!
Daniel 3:8-12 8Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews. 9They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever. 10Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image: 11And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
12There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”
Imagine it and put yourself right beside Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. You have been told you will be burned to death if you do not bow down. That’s some scary stuff. However, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego WOULD NOT BOW DOWN. I like to imagine that they remembered sitting at their mama’s knee and hearing their father tell them the laws given to Moses by GOD that they were not to bow down to anything or anyone other than the GOD of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They were not to praise any other god other than the GOD of Heaven and they stood firm! Are you and I standing firm today? Or are we bowing down to false idols. Is there anything standing between you and GOD? Search your heart.
In your mind’s eye, picture the Plain of Dura and all these people stood and the music played and then dramatically, automatically, the horizon went flat…all except for three silhouettes standing upright and firm in their faith in the face of death. Wow! What a moment that must have been. A jaw dropping moment for everyone around, and a proud moment for GOD who was looking down from HIS throne on his three faithful servants, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. What a smile must have crossed HIS face! How blessed HIS heart must have been. I want that. I want to make HIM smile, and to make HIM proud. I want to be a faithful servant, a good daughter to My FATHER.
Now remember when we take a stand, there will be opposition, look for it. The devil doesn’t give up easily. The Chaldeans saw that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would not bow and so they ran and told the king about this. Now where do you suppose Daniel their strong one was? Remember in Daniel chapter 2 the Word of GOD told us that Daniel had been placed on post at the King’s court, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had been placed in positions of high rank in the kingdom at Daniel’s request. Let’s review.
Daniel 2:49 “Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.”
Daniel was not there on the Plain of Dura because he was back where he was supposed to be at the king’s court doing his work. Daniel had been their leader. It had been Daniel who stood up and proposed that they not eat of the king’s meat when they were first brought to Babylon. It was Daniel who had asked them to pray with him about the dream and it had been Daniel who GOD had given the secret to and had gone to the king and interrupted his dream. It was Daniel who had requested that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be placed in the positions that they had at the time, but now it was time for them to make a stand alone without their leader. It was time for them to stand on faith alone.
Who is your strong one? Who is your leader? Is it your pastor? Your youth leader, is it the praise and worship leader, or the song leader, your Sunday school teacher, or your spouse? Perhaps your strong one is the lady down the street who is a known prayer warrior. Role models and leaders are good to have, but what happens when your strong one isn’t around and you are facing a fiery trial of your own? You have to keep in mind that no matter how strong and close to GOD your strong one is, they are still human and they can only go so far with you, GOD has given them their own post to be at and their own work to do. So what do you do when they are not there? Do you just bow down like the rest of the world, or do you find strength in your faith in GOD and make a stand on your own? That is what we are called to do! Because no matter who has been the strong leader of your group or your church, there will be a time when you must stand alone, but know that if you will by faith, you are not really alone! Because the true Strong One is with you at all times. There is one who stands beside you and His name is Holy! Praise The LORD! You walk by faith and not by sight.
It is time for us as individual’s to step up! It is good to have mentors, but what about when they are weak? Will you fall too? There comes a time that you will have to realize that it’s up to you. You will never know what GOD wants to do in your life, until you step up and allow Him to work through you instead of depending on someone else to do what GOD has called you to do! Yes, Beloved it’s time to step up on faith and allow GOD to make it grow and to do the work in you and through you that HE has planned. This is my prayer for each child of GOD today. Know that when you step out on faith, HE is your rock and will always keep your feet steady when you are trusting HIM. GOD Bless you all until next time when we continue our series in Daniel chapter 3. :O)
Dear Righteous, Loving Father…
Thank You for Your Word and for this lesson today. Thank You for comforting my heart in this time of trial and teaching me that it is for a reason and that You are with me. I ask You to comfort each one of Your children today as they live and run the race that is before them. Give us more wisdom, strength, and enable us to endure what we must endure and deliver us from what You choose to deliver us from, and help us to be thankful always iLast week we began our study in Daniel chapter 3. We learned that King Nebuchadnezzar built a monument to himself. It was an image of gold that was ninety feet high and nine feet wide and he told everyone if they did not bow down and worship this image that they would be thrown into the midst of a fiery furnace. We learned that just as King Nebuchadnezzar was an image builder trying to make himself appear as a god, we today can fall into a trap of being insincere or just plain self centered and trying to build up our own images so that we appear grander than what we are in order to receive praise from others. This is pride and GODS word tells us in Proverbs 16 tells us that Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. We are to be genuine and to build our image to that of the image of JESUS CHRIST our perfect example. We also learned that just as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped up in faith, so should we step up on faith and trust GOD and allow HIM to do the work through us that HE wants to do instead of depending upon others to do that work for us. Last lesson we stopped in Daniel chapter 3 just as some of Chaldeans had told the king that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would not bow down to his image. Let's read on and see what The Holy Spirit will teach us as we continue. Now what has happened is some of the Chaldeans have seen that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego have not bowed down, so they have gone to tell King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel 3:12-18 " There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. 13Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. 14Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? 15Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? 16Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." It's interesting in verse 15 that King Nebuchadnezzar gave them another chance to bow down to his false god. Still, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said NO! This reminds me of a Pastor in Iran named Youcef Nadarkhani who was arrested two years ago for being a Christian. He has been given three chances to deny his faith otherwise they have sentenced him to death. Pastor Youcef stands firm in his faith. Not only him but there are many of you who are standing firm in your faith in a land with laws that tell you that you will die if you proclaim JESUS CHRIST as The SON OF GOD and as your LORD and SAVIOR! I pray for Pastor Youcef and I pray for you all, and I urge all of you to join with me in prayer for these precious ones if you are not praying already. If you are going through a fiery trial where your life is at risk, please read this and be encouraged that The LORD is with you, and will NEVER leave or forsake you. HE IS FAITHFUL!!! Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said O King GOD is able to deliver us, but if HE does not, know this, that we will not bow down and serve your gods and we will ONLY worship The ONE True GOD! That was spiritual growth right there. They were facing fire, possibly could feel its heat and smell the smoke. Its one thing to say you will take a stand and to take it, but to take a stand when you know within the hour you could die, now that is faith on a whole new level! It's the kind of faith we want! I understand that many of you around the world, do serve GOD at the risk of your own lives, but there are a lot of us too who do not have to fear our lives being taken, we do not have to fear being thrown into a fiery furnace, but we do still go through fiery trials. 1 Peter 4:12-13 "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, in as much as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." So what kinds of "fires" do Christians face? It can be fires of many kinds. Could be the death of a loved one, could be chronic pain to which there seems no end. Many face cancer. That is always a scary thing to have to deal with. So what do we do in the face of these fiery trials? There are many scenarios and as I was doing this study I listened to some teaching that a wonderful teacher Beth Moore taught. I was blessed very much. There are three scenarios we will look at and we will use the example of someone who has discovered a mass of some sort, and we will use this example because there are so many that I know who are facing cancer right now. So this mass has been discovered and the doctor says that most of the time, this sort of mass is almost always malignant. So we would begin to pray for complete and utmost healing in this case. We would desire and pray for Scenario A which is this: Scenario A: Deliverance From The Fire. In facing this scenario, we would most likely gather our family and church together and all pray for complete divine healing from the LORD. We would believe HIM for that healing and ask that this cancer be removed by HIS power. Now GOD performs miracles all the time. He can do this, we know that HE can. There's no doubt in our minds. Then if HE chose to deliver us from this fiery trail then in going back to the doctor he/she would say, I'm amazed that this mass is not malignant you are fine, or perhaps be shocked and say, where did the mass go? It's gone! That would be an amazing miracle and one that we would want and pray for. Now the faith Dividend of Scenario A would be: Faith Dividend of Scenario A: Our faith is built. For that time our faith would get an amazing boost and growth seeing how GOD moved and healed for HIS glory! How joyful it is when HE does this. In cases like this we have to be very careful because as years go by, the devil can try to get in our minds and make us wonder if it was really GOD or just coincidence. He is evil. We know that all good things come from GOD above! As I stated before, God does perform miracles and HE certainly does heal, but sometimes He does not. What then? That question brings us to the next Scenario, Scenario B. Scenario B: Deliverance Through The Fire. So if GOD chose not to heal this cancer, then one would have to come to the acceptance that ok, the cancer is there, now I am going to pray and ask GOD to deliver me through this fire, because I can't do it alone. So we would gather our prayer partners together and pray for God to help us and give us strength to get through this time, and to give the doctors wisdom and to help us know what treatments to take and exactly how to take care of this cancer. This would be the kind of sickness spoken of in John 11. John 11:4 "When JESUS heard that, He said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of GOD , that the SON OF GOD might be glorified thereby." He is going to bring you through it for His glory! That GOD would be glorified and magnified as HE so deserves. What would be the faith dividend of this Scenario? Faith Dividend of Scenario B: Our Faith Is Refined. 1 Peter 1:6-7 "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of JESUS CHRIST." Gold when placed into fire, is not burned up, but is made much more pure and it is the same but much more so with our faith. It is necessary many times for us to endure a fiery trial so that our faith is proved sincere. That fire burns some of the sinful nature out of us! It is where the rubber meets the road, are we real in our faith or are we just playing church. Enduring in faith through a fiery trial such as this would prove whether or not we are genuine. Praise The LORD, Our GOD wants people to choose to love HIM! He wants faithful sons and daughters. HE will be there every step of the way showing great mercy, provision, and grace through it all! We KNOW HE is faithfulwe should be faithful back! Now this scenario is hard to endure but in the end we would shout and sing, "Through It All I've Learned to Trust In JESUS." Knowing HE brought us through that fiery trial and our faith has been refined. However, what if we were to endure the last scenario? Scenario C, which is: Scenario C: Delivered BY The Fire, Face To Face With JESUS! This is the one that ends in death of this body. This is the one that we all do not want to face. The fact that we do not want this scenario just proves the fact that we are human, but also that we don't really comprehend what is waiting for us on the other side! No we do not want to leave our family and friends, but if we really knew what GOD has in store for those that love HIM, this scenario would be the one that we would desire most! The very reason we long so much to stay here is because it is familiar to us and it is our human lack of understanding that to live is Christ to die is gain! Death to this body is not like waking up, it's like being really awake for the first time. It's beginning to live. It's dropping this sinful prison and stepping to our Home with JESUS, where colors and sounds are more vivid and beautiful than we have ever experienced before. Where there is no more pain and no more death. Just peace and love all the time, and most of all there is JESUS, the one who suffered and died for us and then forgave and redeemed us from our sins. Praise HIS HOLY NAME! Where eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which GOD hath prepared for them that love HIM.? (1 Corinthians 2:9) Yes, I write again, if we really understood this would be the one that we would long forto go HOME with JESUS! Faith Dividend of Scenario C: Our Faith Is Perfected. Having written those truths, still being in this human flesh, with human feelings and understanding, this one can be the hardest scenario to accept for ourselves and for our loved ones. However if you are facing this yourself or a loved one, know that JESUS CHRIST understands! Hebrews 12:1-2 "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto JESUS The Author and Finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before HIM endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of GOD." The last trial for JESUS to go through was one that was more suffering than anyone has ever or will ever face. He dreaded that pain, and He asked that this cup be passed from HIM, yet HE prayed for HIS FATHER'S will and HE endured the cross for our sins. He is no friend of death. Remember when Lazarus died and Jesus wept? (John 11:35) HE did not weep because Lazarus was dead, HE was the resurrection. HE wept because of the pain that HIS friends were enduring because of the death of their brother. HE felt their pain. He understands, but Beloved we have to get HOME some way, and until HE comes back and takes us out of here, death of this body is our transportation Home to where our faith is perfected and turns into sight Praise the LORD. What a day that will be! Now we will keep reading and see that GOD did indeed deliver Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fire, but history tells us of other Christians who burned to death for the cause of Christ. We know that GOD delivered Daniel from the den of lions which we will be studying later on, but there have been others who died at the mouths of lions for the cause of Christ. There have been some who have just died peacefully in their sleep but others seem to suffer terribly in pain before they go. Being saved and right with GOD does not exempt us from trials and suffering. Job 14 tells us that man that is born of woman is of few days and FULL of trouble. Now why does GOD allow some to endure much suffering before death? I wondered this myself as I watched my mom suffer the years and especially the few weeks before she went Home to be with HIM. I wasn't bitter at GOD and I know HE ALWAYS does what is best, but I didn't understand why she had to suffer so and you may be wondering the same thing of yourself or a loved one and today I would say to you, perhaps for GOD'S glory and perhaps rewards are at stake. Perhaps, much suffering is required so that HE can increase the reward that HE can bless us with when we do make it Home! Think about that for a moment and it is precious when it sinks into your heart. James 1:12 "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which The LORD hath promised to them that love Him." Child of GOD, suffering down here is so hard, and no one wants to suffer, but think of the reward if we will endure and trust that GOD knows what is best. A reward that last forever for the endurance of suffering here for a little while! Understand that suffering and death are not always cases where GOD is angry, perhaps it's a means to reward you for enduring in faith, for being genuine through the hard times. Psalm 116:15 "Precious in the sight of The LORD, is the death of HIS saints." When I was a little girl, I would hear that verse in Psalms and I would think, why in the world would someone dying be precious? Why would GOD want someone to die? Now as I am older I understand that it's precious to HIM because HE gets to bring us Home to live with HIM forever! Dear One, if you are facing a fiery trial that is to end in the death of your body, know, that HE must be so excited to see you. HE must be anticipating the time HE gets to bring you Home and pull you in HIS arms and see you face to face, for you to see HIM at last! How marvelous HE is and so very, very Lovely! Oh how I grieved for my mom so long when she went Home 6 months ago, but then GOD showed me, how precious it was to HIM to bring her home. How beautiful it was for HIM to give her grace in her suffering and dying grace and to give her a crown of life. How HE longed to put HIS arms around her but He knew we needed her here, and finally the time came when HE couldn't bear for her to be away from Home any longer and so He brought her to HIMSELF face to face! How I love and miss her, but how I rejoice that she is Home with HIM, never to suffer again! You can know the same about yourself or your loved one! Faith perfectedPraise The LORD! HE IS SO GOOD AND HIS MERCY ENDURES FOREVER! HE IS WORTHY! Dear Righteous, Heavenly Father Thank You that this life isn't all there is, that one day we get to come Home to You forever! I can't hardly wait for that day. I'm so excited to see You LORD. Thank You for taking our loved ones Home, never to suffer again. Thank You for all the things that You have in store for us even though we can't comprehend it now. Thank You for all You have done, continue to do, and what You are going to do. Thank You for being faithful and for giving us grace for the things we must face. You are good and we can trust it forever. Your grace and mercy is never ending. Thank You for being in the fire with us and for loving us even though we don't deserve it. We love you and Praise You forever. In the name of JESUS we pray. Amen.
November 6, 2011