Have you ever felt like you were in a pit you would never get out of?  Whether it was your health, your finances, your marriage, legal problems…the list is endless of the things that can make us feel helpless and hopeless.  Today we seem to be reminded daily of our lack of control over much of what affects us in this life—recent hurricanes, mass shootings and wildfires all threaten our “status quo”, eroding our comfort level and leaving an uneasy feeling in our guts. But for Christians, we should always remember that no matter what happens, no matter our circumstances, we have a constant companion who will never leave us during these trials, One who reminds us, to paraphrase Corrie Ten Boom, that there is no pit that HE is not deeper still.  Today we’ll be studying a story out of Daniel, involving three Jewish boys who were snatched from their homes and taken to a foreign land filled with temptations and wickedness. But instead of conforming and taking the easy route there, they held tight to their faith and their God, even when facing death.  Today we have teacher and author of the book, “Broken Yet Blessed” Kathi McCarty.

 

Table Talk Notes

Daniel 3:1-30 | King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent to gather the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” Therefore, as soon as all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, all the peoples, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

8 Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. They declared to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

 

 

A nation in captivity

Daniel 3: The story of a godless king & 3 Hebrew children who refuse to worship the idol.

Nebuchadnezzar stokes the furnace. An entire nation learns priceless lessons.

 

First lesson… Obeying God doesn’t exempt us from trouble

Dan 3:15b | “…but if you will not worship, you will be cast into the furnace of blazing fire…”

John 16:33 | “…in the world, you will have trouble, but take courage, I have overcome the world.”

Take responsibility for how you respond to trouble – stop making excuses and get back into righteous living. A hammer shatters glass, but forges steel.

Obeying God doesn’t exempt us from trouble. Click To Tweet

 

Second lesson… We are not alone – God is always with us

Dan 3:25 | “…Look, I see 4 men loosed & walking about…”

The potential to destroy was rendered ineffective by faith & righteousness and brought freedom from bondage.

 

Deut 31:6 | (Moses talking) Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Heb 13:5 | Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Mt 28:18-20 | And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Heb 4:14-16 | Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

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Third Lesson… Our trouble can become our testimony

Dan 3:28 “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego, who sent His angel and delivered them.”

Everyone knew what they believed. People want to know “Does what you believe really work when you’re in the fire?!*” A Godly testimony touches lives like no theology can.

Our trouble can become our testimony. Click To Tweet

 

Fourth Lesson… On the other side of trouble is blessing

Dan 3:30 | “Then the king caused Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego to prosper in Babylon…”

The blessing is not in the trouble, but in our willingness to walk righteously while facing trouble. When you’re faithful in the hard places, God can trust you in high places.

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The Lord restores

Job 42:10 | [restores goods] And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

Jeremiah 30:17 | [restores health] For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the Lord…

Psalm 51:7-12 | [restores joy of salvation] Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Isaiah 1:18 | [removes sin, restores us to God] “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

2 Cor 5:17 | [removes penalty of death, and makes us a new creation] Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

 

The biggest lesson…“…but even if not…”

“Every time we face a painful experience, it has the potential to defeat us, if we so choose, or if we choose to pass through it by God’s grace, it will pass, and what will be left behind is the beauty of character which more resembles Jesus.” ~Pierre Auguste Renoir~

 

Some things to remember

God is our Father and He is good all the time.

Jesus’ resurrection power now dwells in us.

He will never leave or forsake us.

He is coming back, probably sooner than we realize.

 

A final thought…

 

~AFFLICTIONS~

Not ’til the loom is silent

And the shuttles cease to fly

Shall God unroll the canvas

And explain the reason why

The dark threads are as needful

In the Weaver’s skillful hand

As the threads of gold and silver

In the pattern He has planned.

 

 

The challenge…

Is there something the Lord desires to teach me, or to cultivate in me, when I feel like I’m in the fiery furnace of difficult and/or painful circumstances?

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” CS Lewis

 

Be blessed!

Heb 13:5 | I will never leave or forsake you.

Psalm 56:3 | What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.