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Standing Firm Through Persecution

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Stand Firm  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  37:52
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Looking at Different Tests that Daniel faced that are similar test that we face in our lives here in NO 2500 years later.
Every time Daniel passes a test, he gets more influence, more money, more power and a better job.
Today we are going to look at Standing Firm through Persecution or when the Heat is on.
The Heat is On - Eagles 33 years ago for Eddie Murphy’s Beverly Hills Cop. BTW, Glenn Fry was paid $15,000 to write the song and it made millions.
Phrase also is used when the police are looking for you in the 30’s Gangster period. It also ment the police were interrogating you.
Today, it’s used all the time and it means, the pressure is on.
In Daniel 3, we will look at the heat they faced, and it was literal.
This story is 15 years later than the story we looked at last week. Daniel and his friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were no longer teenagers. They are in their mid 30’s and are serving in the government.
Neb was the emperor and was the most powerful man on the planet and he struggled with pride like many would in that position. His pride causes the next test that Daniel and his friends go thorugh.
Daniel 3:1–7 NLT
King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue ninety feet tall and nine feet wide and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Then he sent messages to the high officers, officials, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the provincial officials to come to the dedication of the statue he had set up. So all these officials came and stood before the statue King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then a herald shouted out, “People of all races and nations and languages, listen to the king’s command! When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other musical instruments, bow to the ground to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue. Anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” So at the sound of the musical instruments, all the people, whatever their race or nation or language, bowed to the ground and worshiped the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
Let me point out that even though this occured 2500 years ago, it is relevant today because we struggle with the same 4 things in our culture today.

SIMILARITIES OF DANIEL TO TODAY

1. The World Creates Larger Than Life Images for Me to Worship.

Our Culture doesn’t build Statues, but we idolize the images on the Big Screen, In Athletics, Etc.

We think these people are larger than life and because they are talented, we put them on this pedestal that they don’t deserve to be on - most not even close.

Our Culture wants You to Worship: Physical Beauty; Success; Pleasure; Fame; Power

2. We are all Tempted to Create a False Image of ourselves to Impress Others.

We all do this at times. We put on a mask so that people know who we want them to know. We need to be careful...

Image Building can Become Idol Building.

The #1 way we do this is on social media. We portray ourselves like we want to so that people will like us, respect us… We put stuff on there like our lives are perfect.
We sit down at a Restaurant and take a picture of it and post it - food porn.
I am not talking about trying to be the best you can be, or even dressing nice. You ought to do that. I am talking about image building… trying to be someone you are not.
Then there are some people who idolize them selves. Have you ever met one? (don’t look) They think the world revolves around them. You should adapt to their schedule… to their needs… to their desires. Everything is about them. Unfortunately, that kind of ego and arrogance is prevalent in our culture today.

3. If I Reject the Culture’s Idols and Images, People will Try to Burn Me (Persecute)

If you reject the worlds idols and reject living the way the world wants you to, they will begin to pressure you … trying their best to get you to conform. If you don’t love what they love, believe what they believe, they will try to burn you.
Culture today. If you don’t believe some of the things today, you will be blasted.
Try living the Christian Live at a College Campus. Try being Pro-life. Try disagreeing with anything that’s hot in the news right now… You will be burned.
When all the leaders fell on their face and the music was playing, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo were still standing up… sticking out like a sore thumb. They were leaders in the government but…
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Daniel 3:8–12 NLT
But some of the astrologers went to the king and informed on the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “Long live the king! You issued a decree requiring all the people to bow down and worship the gold statue when they hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other musical instruments. That decree also states that those who refuse to obey must be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—whom you have put in charge of the province of Babylon. They pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They refuse to serve your gods and do not worship the gold statue you have set up.”
How is that for loyalty from your co-workers? You may have co-workers that would love to have your job… This could have been jealousy, racism, anti semitism…

People Will Be Offended When You Don’t Conform.

4. Doing the Right Thing Always Makes Some People Angry.

When you try to live for the Lord, people will not like it and become angry with you. Listen, people will get angry at some point at you anyway.
Too many people think that if they could just be perfect and act perfect, everyone would like them… Not True. Jesus was perfect and they murdered him.
This story includes Daniels friends and what got them into the heat was tha tthey challenged the king’s narcissism.

Anytime You challenge Someone’s Ego, Expect Anger.

The Story of Daniels 3 Friends shows 3 Kinds of people

1. The Stuck Up People - Neb.

2. The Kiss - Ups - the other bureaucrats.

3. The Stand Ups - Daniel and his friends.

What kind of person are you in the Market place? School? in Business?
Are you stuck up, a kiss up or are you a Stand up… You are going to do the right thing no matter what...

Bowing to the King would Break the First and Second Commandments

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Exodus 20:3–5 NLT
“You must not have any other god but me. “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me.
1 - No other Gods before me.
2 - No idols in the form of anything on earth.
The sins of the parents impact our children. If you don’t believe me, right now our nations is over spending and we have a 20 trillion dollar debt. Who will pay for that? Not you and I … Our children and their children...
One of the reasons they did not bow was it would break the commandments, but the other was that...

The reason They were POW’s was that their parents had broken these commandments for years.

Look at what happens when NEB finds out they will not bow down.
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Daniel 3:13–15 NLT
Then Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought before him. When they were brought in, Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?”
NEB was going to show them…
One Question I want us to answer today is

WHAT SHOULD WE DO IN THE FURNACE OF PERSECUTION?

We will all face the heat of persecution. If you feel like you are going through hell, you picked a good week to come to church today.
Let’s look at what Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did that we can also do when the heat is on.

1. DON’T WORRY ABOUT DEFENDING YOURSELF.

Daniel 3:16 NLT
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.
When you go to work and you do the right thing and follow the Lord and people don’t like it, and they put hte heat on you, don’t defend yourself,

Trust God to Defend You.

God can fight the fight much better than you and I.

2. REMEMBER THAT GOD HAS THE POWER TO SAVE YOU.

It doesn’t matter what kind of trouble you are encountering or what kind of pressure you are under, just remember that God has the power to save you.
Daniel 3:17 NLT
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.

3. BELIEVE THAT GOD WILL SAVE YOU.

When your world is falling apart, you are in the middle of a crisis, you not only need to remember that God is able to rescue you, able to deliver you, but you must believe that He WILL deliver you.
Daniel 3:17b NLT
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.
Think about this. Everyone is bowing to the statue, but these 3 guys. Talk about peer pressure. These guys had the courage to say, NO, it’s not right and we will not do what you asked.
If you are going through the fire right now, you need to read the WOG because ...

There are hundreds of Promises of Deliverance in the Bible.

If you don’t know these promises, it’s like having a life insurance policy and not knowing it. There are over 7,000 promises in the Bible.
Here is one...
Isaiah 43:2–3 NLT
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
That’s a promise from God.

4. ANNOUNCE YOUR LOYALTY TO GOD NO MATTER WHAT.

If you are having a one on one with your boss or do some type of confrontation, go ahead and make your loyalty known first. Declare that you will be loyal to the Lord no matter what the outcome of the meeting is. Look at verse 18...
Daniel 3:18 NLT
But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
Listen to me. When God works, He usually works in one of three ways. When God delivers you there are usually three ways he will or can deliver you.

God Saves, Delivers or Rescues us in 3 Ways

1. Sometimes God saves us FROM the Crisis.

Sometimes God will take you away from the problem. That would be nice and it is when he does.

2. Sometimes God saves us THROUGH the Crisis.

Sometimes its while we go through it… like he did with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. He just up and gives you the strength to deal with the issue.

3. Sometimes God saves us BY the Crisis.

Maybe that problem wasn’t the real problem, but it saved you from the real problem.
You go into the hospital for one thing and they find something much worse and because they found it, they can get rid of it.
Sometime a small problem is a warning light warning us of a larger problem. Sometimes he allows the problem because He wants to save you. Look,
1 Peter 1:6–7 NLT
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Remember, God is more interested in Your Character than He is Your Comfort.

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Daniel 3:19 NLT
Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face became distorted with rage. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual.

Their challenge to Neb’s Deity cost them to be thrown into the fire.

Why did he do this? Reflect… He was worried that God actually might help them out. He was insecure.
When someone reacts like that… when someone over reacts to your faith… when they hear you are a Christian, and they come unglued. They are actually insecure.
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Daniel 3:20–23 NLT
Then he ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So they tied them up and threw them into the furnace, fully dressed in their pants, turbans, robes, and other garments. And because the king, in his anger, had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace, the flames killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in. So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell into the roaring flames.
Next 6 things happened. When you understand this, you will relax a bit.
Six Benefits when you trust God.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I TRUST GOD IN THE FURNACE?

1. GOD WILL WALK THROUGH THE FIRE WITH YOU.

Daniel 3:24–25 NLT
But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?” “Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied. “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!”
Jesus said he would never leave us or forsake us...
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Matthew 28:20 NLT
Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
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Isaiah 43:2–3 NLT
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.

2. GOD WILL BURN OFF EVERYTHING HOLDING ME DOWN

Notice, they were thrown into the fire and they did not burn. Their clothes did not burn. Only the ropes that were holding them were burned off.
Question: What’s got you bound up? What’s holding you back from being all you can be?
God will take you through the fire and you will come throgh it un-singed and un-burnt, but the things that are holding you back will be burned off.
Isaiah 48:10 NLT
I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.

Pain Never Leaves You Where it Found You.

It will pick you up here and drop you off over there. Pain changes you forever. It will burn off the immaturity so that you can be the person God wants you to be.

3. GOD WILL GIVE YOU A NEW FREEDOM.

Psalm 66:12 NLT
Then you put a leader over us. We went through fire and flood, but you brought us to a place of great abundance.

What others mean to enslave or destroy you with, God uses to LIBERATE you.

Joseph

4. GOD WILL MAKE SURE YOU COME OUT UNHARMED!

Before this even happened, God knew it was coming and how it would end. He wasn’t worried or surprised and because he wasn[t worried or surprised, we don’t have to worry either.
Daniel 3:26–27 NLT
Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire. Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke!

These Guys Stood Firm.

5. IT WILL BRING UNBELIEVERS TO FAITH IN GOD.

It’s a testimony and a witness when we handle pain and suffering… when we handle the pressure. When we do, it will draw people to the Lord.
Daniel 3:28 NLT
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.
What are you willing to do for? There are things worth dying for. When we know what we would die for, we know how to live.
Jesus cam so that we might have life and have it abundantly.

How You Handle the Fire may be your most powerful witness to those around you.

Here is what happened in this story.
Daniel 3:29–30 NLT
Therefore, I make this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be turned into heaps of rubble. There is no other god who can rescue like this!” Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to even higher positions in the province of Babylon.
2500 Years later, that statement is still true...

There is NO OTHER GOD who can Save you.

6. GOD WILL REWARD YOUR FAITH IN HEAVEN.

There will be rewards in heaven for how we trusted God in this life.
1 Corinthians 3:10–15 NLT
Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.
Our life’s work will be tested by the fire.
Neb was the emperor and was the most powerful man on the planet and he struggled with pride like many would in that position. His pride causes the next test that Daniel and his friends go through.
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