Trial by Fire
Trial by Fire
1.The Pressure to Conform-Daniel 3:1-15
N builds his statue 90 feet high and 9 feet wide
Everyone in leadership is called to see the idol
They are ordered to bow down and worship the image
The penalty for not bowing is death in a giant furnace
Everyone bows before the image out of fear
Astrologers who have a personal hatred for Jews point out that SMA did not bow to N
N orders that SMA be brought to him
He asks them if the accusations are true
N gives them another chance to conform or face the consequences
Rachel Scott was often under the pressure to conform
She went under the same peer pressure all us have faced
She was involved in people pleasing
She would fight with family members
She would attend parties
She was tempted sexually
She disobeyed her parents about where she was going and curfew
She became addicted to smoking (ILL-1)
In HS she came to a decision; she wanted to reach her school for Jesus
In fact she had often felt that in some way she was going to impact the world
Walk the talk was her motto and she wanted to start a chain reaction
She developed her own campaign of compassion targeting 3 areas:
The picked on, the new comers, and the handicapped
She lost friends over this decision (ILL-2)
She befriended Jim a handicapped boy-asked him out on a date
She witnessed to Eric Harris-one of the killers at Columbine
April 20, 99 Eric and Dylan Klebold implemented a plan aimed at jocks, geeks and Christians
Eric had a crush on Rachel and targeted her in particular
As they came to impliment their plan Rachel was sitting on the grass with her friend Richard
They shot Richard 6 times and severed his spinal chord
Rachel was shot 4 times from behind
As she tried to crawl away Eric grabbed her by the hair and asked her this question: Do you still believe in God
What would your answer be?
How easy it would be to say no and conform.
Everyday we are asked that question.
2.The Conviction to Stand- Daniel 3:16-18
SMA are not pressured to defend what they believe or why they will not bow
They display courage and confidence that God can save them from death
They display trust in God in the face of fear even if they would not be saved
They will not bend no matter what the threat
Rachel showed amazing courage at different times
Writing her ethics and codes (ILL-3)
School talent show-doing mime
Defending boy from being picked on (ILL-4)
When faced with the question-“Do you still believe in God”
She had 4 bullet wounds to her body
She was bleeding
She was scared
She was in pain
She looked into Erics eyes and answered with conviction-“You know I do”
How often do we crumble under pressure that is not even close to what SMA or Rachel went through?
How often do we justify our poor witness because of our need to protect ourselves
Again I ask-What would your answer be?
3.The Outcome of Obedience-Daniel 3:19-30
N was extremely furious with SMA for their defiance
He ordered that the fire be made 7 times hotter and that SMA be thrown into it
The fire was so hot it killed the soldiers
3 men not 4 men
N called out SMA-didn’t even smell of smoke
N praised God and calls Him the most high God
N Shows favor to SMA
Rachel was obedient to God regardless of consequences
With her answer a chain reaction began
She answered “You know I do”
With her response Eric held the gun to her head and said “Then go be with Him” and shot her
Rachel experienced death and a premature eternity
But her decision changed lives:
A D.J. accepted Jesus at her funeral (she helped him change a tire in the rain)
A handicapped boy gave his life (ILL-5)
A new girl she befriends accepts Jesus
When I was 12 I decided to follow Jesus. It was a decision done without fanfare. Frankly when I say that I was 12, I am pretty much guessing. When I was 14 my family moved and God asked me to decide to dedicate myself to him of to turn away. I choose Christ and faced the consequences of that decision. I was willing to sacrifice everything for Him and he gave me many opportunities to serve him-to see many lives changed. This decision shaped my dating life, friendships and career. I spent 4 years in college and many summers at a Christian camp learning how to serve him better. He even provided me the privilege of serving him full time.
I entered my first church, excited, young, idealistic, single and without a clue what I was doing. But it didn’t seem to matter, I loved my students and worked hard and God did amazing things. Over time I have developed a plan and envisioned great things, but with more that I know the less that I seek God to make ministry happen. I fight the demons of self-reliance and especially self-preservation. I thought at many times, like so many in my profession if I was really cut out to be a youth Pastor.
I began preparing this sermon with the intent of speaking about the extraordinary lives of SMA and that is still the plan for today. I wanted to connect this anchient story with our lives in a way that would move us to action, to take steps that would transform our lives. But the harder I tried, the more I failed. This past weekend 45 students and 14 leaders went to Ichthus and it is there that I was reminded through our Friday night speaker of a young lady that understood the meaning of sacrifice. She more than anyone knew the plight of SMA. She could identify with their anguished decision to sacrifice all.
Although I had my scripture and I had our connection to everyday life, I was not at peace. I prepared anyway, but was not content with what I had to say. So on Friday I began again, not with logical or persuasive arguments, but with only these things: A Bible passage, my openness and the story of Rachel Scott.
SMA were three young men choosen by King N to serve in his government. If you recall they are the same 3 men that refused to eat form the kings table. For 10 days they had only vegetable and water. At the end of 10 days they were in better shape and had learned more then anyone else. Their obedience to God was honored and they became administrators in N governement. But this status also brought them face to face with a life changing decision.
Rachel Scott was a 17 year old Junior. She is familiar to us because she attended Columbine HS in Littleton, Co. She was the daughter of devorsed parents. Her father was a minister before his devorce and then he removed himself from ministry. Rachel was 12 when she accepted Jesus as her savior. This decision started her on a journey that so closely parallels the amazing story of SMA.
It is my hope today through the account in Daniel 3 and the life of Rachel Scott that we all may be willing to sacrifice everything as they were willing to do.
People are not labeled extraordinary because they were born that way, but because they were willing to sacrifice everything.
Both SMA and Rachel choose to live their faith no matter the consequences
They both answered in favor of obedience to God.
But their personal outcomes were very different
The affects on others were the same.
God used their willingness to transform human hearts
We are all called to sacrifice, but are we willing?
Is our dedication to God strong enough to forsake all else?
I have been humbled by the lives of 4 individuals. 3 who lived many years ago and 1 that could have been in my youth group.
I am ashamed at times of my lack of moral character.
My desire for self is riddled with justification
But today is the opportunity for all of us to make a change
To say to God and everyone here, I will sacrifice everything to follow Jesus.
What will your answer be?