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February 16, 2020 | Doug Sauder
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This past weekend, we continued our series, “Revealer of Mysteries: A Study Through Daniel,” as Pastor Doug Sauder explored King Nebuchadnezzar's response to his dream in Daniel 3. In this message, we took a deep dive into one of the most compelling and powerful stories in the Old Testament and discovered how the Lord showed up in this moment, how He shows up in our lives today, and how we can stand firm in our convictions, even in the face of persecution and the temptations of the world.
Watch the video below to see a few highlights from the teaching and share it with your friends via social media. To watch the message in its entirety, click here.
FOR THE NOTE TAKERS
Let’s recap some of the key talking points from Pastor Doug's message this weekend:
The Pressure to Compromise Is a Guarantee in Life (Daniel 3:1–7): There is no way around it . . . as believers, we will be tempted to compromise our convictions for the sake of comfort and culture. And when we don’t, when we walk faithfully and with conviction, we can expect to experience some form of persecution. As a believer, if we’ve never felt the pressure or tension to stand firm in our faith, then we’ve likely found ourselves in compromise.
For these men, it was bow down and worship this image, this idol, and break the commandments or stand and be thrown into the fire. In our lives, we may encounter similar situations. While it may not resemble Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s unique story, the truth is every single day we are and will continue to be confronted with the choice of compromising our convictions and bowing to ungodly and sinful things. More and more, the culture around us is calling wrong right and right wrong, distorting God’s wills and ways and hailing it as truth. More and more, our world seems to be celebrating sin and silencing those who stand on truth. So, what can we do?
Like these young men, we can live with conviction in an age of compromise! We can purpose in our hearts to honor God and not bow before anything or anyone else. And the best part is that we have the Holy Spirit in us, who through God’s grace, “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12 NIV) so that “[we] may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then [we] will shine among them like stars in the sky” (Philippians 2:15 NIV).
If You Have True Convictions, Certain Decisions Have Already Been Made (Daniel 3:8–15): When we are rooted in our faith, when we have made the decision to follow Jesus as His disciple, to die to self, to take up our cross, then there will always be certain choices that have already been made before we even arrive at the moment. What does that mean? It means that, based on our true convictions, there is no debating, no questioning, no weighing the options. Like we see with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the only choice is obedience and devotion. When convictioins are true, decisions become clearer. Why? Because when we live as His disciples and seek Christ and His kingdom first, the Holy Spirit will lead us, like a compass for our souls, and will give us the strength to stand strong in those convictions.
We see this from the very beginning of this book, where Daniel “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8a NKJV). We see it again here as these young men were pressured and threatened, but did not waver.
Has anyone ever tested your faith and your allegiance, your loyalty to a friend, your faithfulness to a significant other or your spouse, or even your devotion to the Lord? The fact is our convictions make us a target. Whether it’s in our marriages, our relationships with other brothers and sisters, or our relationship with the Lord, the enemy is seeking to bring us down, to cause us to compromise, to destroy our witness, and trap us in sinful behavior and self-condemnation. That's why we must never rely on our own strength; we must daily empty ourselves of pride and self-reliance and allow the Holy Spirit to fill us, fuel us, sanctify us, and strengthen us.
Convictions Help You Say: “No Matter What . . .” (Daniel 3:16–18): When we're walking by the Spirit and are deeply rooted in our faith and the convictions to follow after Jesus in every area of our lives, the Holy Spirit provides the strength, boldness, and courage for us to say, “The God we serve is able to deliver us . . . But even if he does not . . . we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17–18 NIV).
There's something powerful in this text we can't miss: These young men took this stand and stood firm in their convictions together, in community, arm-in-arm. They said, “The God we serve is able to deliver us . . . But even if he does not . . . we will not serve” (Daniel 3:17-18 NIV, emphasis added). The lesson here? We don’t have to take our stand in isolation. We are not alone! We have a community of brothers and sisters ready to stand with us in any situation, ready to pray with us, intercede on our behalf, hold up our arms, and walk in the power of the Spirit together.
Something else to note: They said to the king, “We do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter” (Daniel 3:16 NIV). This is a monumental lesson for us to learn, especially nowadays, where Twitter feuds, social media comment sections, and arguments abound. We don’t need to defend our convictions, we just need to walk in them and allow the Spirit to work in the hearts and minds of others who see and interact with us.
Jesus Stands with You in the Fire (Daniel 3:19–30): As believers, we may find ourselves in some fiery situations. For some, because of their belief in Jesus, it’s literally a life or death persecution. All around the world this happens, even now. For the majority of others, the fiery furnace is societal and personal persecution. Whether it’s a refusal to figuratively kneel before worldly, sinful idols or standing firmly upon biblical truths and values, more and more we are faced with the fires of cultural persecution.
And just like with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, no matter what fire we face, no matter how hot the flames may be, no matter the rage of the persecutors, that same presence that stood in the fire with them lives in us and will never leave or forsake us. Whatever fire, whatever trial, whatever painful, difficult, scary, or hopeless circumstance we face, we can walk with confidence knowing that Jesus Christ will always be right there in the fire with us, moving, working, redeeming, saving, and bringing glory to the Father! And as He did here with King Nebuchadnezzar, God can use our lives to cause our persecutors and all those who are watching to leap to their feet in amazement of the transforming power of Jesus Christ.
Quote to Remember: If you’ve never felt the pressure or tension to stand, then you’ve likely given into it.—Pastor Doug Sauder
1. How have you experienced the pressure to compromise? What did the Lord show you in those moments?
2. What steps can you take to help you stand with conviction in the face of compromise?
3. Where are your convictions being tested right now?
4. Who in your life do you have to help stand with you?
5. How does knowing that Jesus is there with you in the fire change your perspective?
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A LOOK AHEAD
Join us this Wednesday as we continue our discussion from the weekend's series, "Revealer of Mysteries: A study Through Daniel." In this message, Pastor Doug will lead a panel discussion.
Then on the weekend, we’ll continue this series as Pastor Doug Sauder shares from Daniel 4. In this message, we'll dive into one of the most interesting chapters in all the Bible, a chapter written by pagan King Nebuchadnezzar. We'll get a firsthand view of where pridefulness ultimately leads, but we'll also get to see God's gracious hand and power to restore!