Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sermon notes

In the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar wants to assimilate the Jews he has brought into his society.

However, they are scared of becoming a part of the pagan occult culture. They're not sure how to take part in the culture without becoming a part of it. You might have heard the phrase, in but not of the world. Work for the good of the culture.

Daniel 3 tells the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the fiery furnace.

It all starts when Nebuchadnezzar builds a giant gold statue for people to worship - which my pastor guesses represents all the deities in the culture so everyone would bow down to it. He assimilated people by eliminating religious exclusivity and forcing people to privatize their faiths.

It's very similar in our society. We are allowed to worship the way we want in private at church but don't bring it put into public. We're supposed to privatize our faith.

We're also not supposed to say that Jesus is the only way to God. We're supposed to be accepting of all religions. Our culture today isn't much different than Babylon. There might not be a statue of gold to bow to, but we still bow to the pressure of sex, swearing and acting different on Monday than we do on Sunday.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abendnego faced a fiery furnace for not worshipping the false god. I sometimes think if I faced this persecution, I would know it and would stand strong for God. I haven't really thought about that in view of our culture. I don't face a fiery furnace, but I face ridicule, laughter or even something as simple as being left out. In the face of less serious stuff, I topple easily. Maybe because it's not as spelled out - bow or die - I don't realize I'm in the same situation. When it isn't physical bowing it doesn't seem as big a deal.

When it comes to a time when we might feel like we have to compromise, we shouldn't think about the consequences, we should think about the one that has the power to deliver us. It all depends on what we concentrate on.

While God has the power to deliver us, he knows the best if, when and how to deliver us. It might not be how we want or expect.

However, when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are thrown into the more than 1,000 degree furnace they aren't burned. They don't die. Jesus even joins them inside.

Isaiah 43:1-3 says, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire, you shall not be burned and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the holy one of Israel, your Savior..."

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