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February 16, 2020 | Doug Sauder
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“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.’”—Daniel 3:16–17 (NIV)
It’s a matter of life and death. Many of us have uttered this expression in jest, but honestly have not experienced a true matter of life and death—unlike our friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego!
In today’s passage, we see them faced with what, on the surface, to anyone within viewing and hearing distance would have absolutely considered a true life and death decision. In the mind of King Nebuchadnezzar, this was definitely a life or death moment for his three young servants. Either they bow down and worship his golden statue or they die a gruesome, fiery death.
Can you imagine being threatened with a fiery furnace if you didn’t break the first commandment (Exodus 20:4-6)? I can’t. And as much as I’d like to say with full confidence and boldness that I would absolutely refuse and take a stand for the God who saved me and redeemed me . . . I can’t.
I want to believe that my faith is strong enough to endure a fiery death or to stand firm in the face of death by stoning like Stephen did (Acts 7:54-60). But I’ve never been faced with a life or death situation, so as much as I love the Lord, I don’t know if I have this kind of faith. I don’t know that I have the boldness, strength, and assurance to stand and say, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.”
Now, I know for some, this admission on my part will cause me to lose credibility in your eyes. I hope that’s not the case, because I’m simply being honest and aware of my sinful nature. And if you look at Scripture, I’m not alone. John the Baptist—the one who saw the Spirit descend on Jesus, who baptized Jesus, the Elijah who was to come—experienced a similar crisis of faith in his life or death season, sending his disciples to ask Jesus, "Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?" (Luke 7:19 NIV). I also take solace in knowing that the apostle Peter denied the Lord and was restored.
Maybe like me you’re willing to admit you’re not sure how strong your faith is. We can take comfort from and follow the example of the disciples, who said to the Lord Jesus, “Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5 NIV). Will you join me in asking our Lord for more faith? He is faithful to give it and He is faithful to stand in the fire with us, too!
DIG: Read the account of the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7 and the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3.
DISCOVER: What steps can you take to increase your faith?
DO: Ask the Lord today for an increase of faith, for His Spirit to pour faith and hope in increasing measure, and for a fresh anointing of the Spirit over you.