Refined By Fire
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ConnectUs Church Audio Podcast
ConnectUs Church Audio Podcast

Episode · 9 months ago

Refined By Fire

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

God often uses difficult situations to grow your faith. He has also placed some important people around you to walk through it with you.

Daniel 3

It was the night after Thanksgivingjust a couple months ago, and my two and a half year old,daughter, Kinsley, if you haven't, met her yet she's running around here withbright red hair. But she woke up in the middle of the night and she said Daddy,Mommy Daddy. I want to have a tea party, and so we said, okay, we got her out of bed and- and we saton the floor and we had a tea party at three o'clock in the morning and what turns a cute story in atotally different direction is when I tell you that a bunch of ICU nurses atthe AI dupon children's hospital were witnesses to this famous tea party andthe bed in which she cried out for us was a hospital bed and the I c you one of those cool crib bed, thingsThayre, pretty neat if you haven't seen them and when we move them on to thefloor to play and have the tea party at three o'clock in the morning, I didn'ttell you: She was hooked up to all of these monitors, making sure thateverything was okay, because she had open heart surgery a couple days before, and we praise God that the surgeon didan incredible job and he fixed everything. Her heart is perfect now,but that tea party and those five days we were in the ICU and spending theholidays in the hospital. It was a circumstance that God used tochange our conduct, it's what we do and our character, that's who we are andthat's oftentimes definition of a trial o difficult circumstance that Godallows to come into our life to change ourconduct, that's what we do and our character, that's who we are and for you, your circumstance, mayhave been similar. Maybe you have had a medical thing that you've been dealingwith or have been dealing with, and you know kind of what it's like to be thereor a child dealing with a medical issue, and you connect with us and our storyin that similar way, or maybe for you, this circumstance that God has allowedin your life. It was much worse in many ways than what I described. Maybe foryou it's. There is no good ending for you. This was a problem, a trial ofdifficulty from years ago, and you know what it still hasn't gotten any better,and you know what it's actually gotten worse and I understand that there's so manydifferent kinds of trials, so many different kinds of difficulties andcircumstances that God allows into our life, but he allows them like God, isin control and nothing happens outside of his control. And the big word issovereignty like he is in control of it...

...all and he allows these things to comeinto our life, to change our conduct and our character. Now I want to tellyou about a famous person that you know- and you might not know him by name, but you know what hehas produced in this world, because he came and had a circumstance like this.That really impacted his life, and this guy's name is Steve Jobs, the Apple Guy, if you're holding an iphone- or youknow about that- you got to thank Steve Jobs for thatwhen he was thirteen years old, he showed up to church one day and insteadof bringing a Bible with him, he brought a magazine. Actually it's thismagazine, th Ne Thousand Nine hundred and sixty eight edition of lifemagazine and on the cover, as you can see, oure two starving children in theBEAFRA war and Steve brought this magazine to hispastor and he said to the pastor he said: Does God know if I lift my finger,which one oulllift before I even lift it and the passor said? Yes, he doesand Steve said well, does God know about this situation and what's he doing about it and thepastor answered and that day, as Steve Job's biography reads was thelast day he ever went to church and it's a circumstance like this thatchanged who he was changed, what he did and so sometimes it's circumstancesthat God allows into our life to change our conduct in our character that move us actually away from God thatpush us away from God that we don't want. We don't understand, we don'twant God to be dealing with that part of our life and we don't. It moves us away, but sometimes thecircumstances grow us closer to God, because many people have seen far woresituations than these children depict mee. People have been in veryimpoverished areas, and couple years ago my wife and I had the opportunityto go to Guatemala on a missions trip, and it's really a neat story. This guyin Indiana, felt, like God, was calling him to move to Guatemala and he justmoved his family to Guatamala and to be with the people and to serve and tolove and delete, help pastors. And it's an incredible thing. We got to spend alot of time with them and we stayed in a beautiful place, but we alsoconnected with people that were living in some prettyimpoverished areas and seeing that like for Alisia- and I my wife and I itdidn't, turn US away from faith. It didn't make us question God and what wewere doing. It actually strengthened...

...our faith to engage in this situationto do something about this situation, and so I share that because it'simportant to know that it's not the situation that determines, if you'regoing to grow in your faith and strengthen your faith or to turn awayfrom faith and run away from God and not want to know about God anymore.It's not the circumstance. It's your interpretation of the circumstance. It's the way youunderstand the circumstance, and so God created each one of us unique and howwe interpret it. How we understand the circumstances, but one of the biggestinfluences that God uses and help us interpret the what is happening aroundus is the people God places in our life, and so I just wonder like who was inSteve Jobs, H's life to help them put into perspective what he was seeing,what he was feeling as a young teenager like who was there, and what could Havhave happened differently in this world if somebody maybe had guided him alittle better or stronger, or he had been more receptide to more of thepeople around him. Whatever the case may be, and so the same is for you likewho is around you who is in your life, that is helping you influencing youhelping you get a perspective and a faith on about God, and so today, that's what we're goingto talk about we're going to talk about this story in the Scriptures and if youhave your Bible, encourage you to turn to Daniel Chapter three, where we meetthree guys that were facing a really insane circumstance that God hadallowed in their life to grow their faith to test their their change, theirconduct and their character. And these three guys their names are shadrack, Mi,Shach and Abendago, and the circumstance that we find them in isthey have to decide. Are they going to worship this golden image idol that theking set up or are they going to not and the consequence for not doing thatwas to be thrown into the fiery furnace and it's like okay hold on? I either fall down and listen to theKing and worship, God or I don't do that like. How did these guys get there?In the first place, well, that's what we got ta set the stage for, and so inDaniel Chapter three verse, one we see and read that King Nebikanezar made agold statue. Ninety feet tall and nine feet wide and set it up on the plane ofder in the province of Babylon. Now we don't know exactly what the statutelook like, but because of his dream in Daniel Chapter, two people guess thatmaybe it was a statue that represented himself but again the text doesn't tellus so then he sent messages to the HIG...

...officers, officials, governor'sadvisors, treasurs judges, magistrates and all the providential officials tocome to the dedication of the statue he had set up. This was a serious thing,and so all the officials came and stood before the statue. King Nebikannezzerhad set up O and so then a harold shouted all racisn nations and languages listento the king's command. When you hear the sound of the Horn, Saerir Hart ipes, musical instumentsnggold statue, anyone who refuses too Ma will immmediately be thrown into ablazing vire and so at the sound of the musicalinstruments. All the people, whatever the race or nation or language, bowedto the ground and worship the gold statue thet King Nepbikanezzer had setup. I don't see anybody, that's I don'tknow if that's a good thing or not a good thing, but some of the astrologers went to the king and informed on theJews, meaning they snitched on them. That's the Kevin Translation. Oh they said to Kignevican as a long wite,the king, you issued at the cree requiring all the people to bow downand worship the gold statue and when they hear the sound of the Horn, I wonder I might have kept this going the entiretime and all these slides, because I just copied them and that will bereally really bad. Oh thank goodness. Okay apologize for that, and so the decree also states at thosewho refuse to obey must be thrown into a blazing furnace and there are some JuShanrek Mishak in Abentago, whom you have put in charge of the providence ofBavalon. They Pai no attention to you, Your Majesty. They refuse to serve yourgods and do not worship the gold statue. You have set up so that was a fun way that get into thescene, as you can imagine that big statue and all of the people, thisincredible amount of important people in the empire of Babylon coming andobeying the king, and then you have these three guys, these three Jewishguys that decided that WHA. You are' going to do that and maybe you're inawe of their faith like how can they stand up and do that or maybe you thinkthat these guys are nuts like? Why would they even make that decision? And so we have to look back furtherinto the story and Daniel Chapter one...

...to see why they made the decision thatthey did and in fact, in Daniel Chapter One. We see that I think that they wereset up to fail this test jus to in this circumstance, to bow down and to givein, because in Daniel Chapter One fers. Seven we see that the chief of the staff reathing them with these Babyloniannames, Daniel was called Beltashazar Hannania was called shadrack Michel wascalled Mishacq and Azaria was called a Bendago see when the Babylonians cameinto Israel. They took all of the strong young smart leaders out ofIsrael and into Babylon because they wanted to use them in their kingdom fortheir purposes, and it was like a reeducation program and they wanted toteach them the culture and the religion and and make them be like the BabaLonians N, not the the Hebrews or the Israelites, and so the first thing thatthese Babylonians did to these people that came in and to help them rethinktheir whole. Entire life was to give them a new name, and so Daniel Means, God is my judge and the name that they change it toBeltashazar means bell, which is a Babylonian God protect his life. HananIo Yaway has been gracious, shadrack, a companion of Aku, another BabylonianGod Michel, who is like God right God's awesome, God's amazing and Mishak sayswho is like Aku the Babylonian God again as Ariah Yaway has helped.Abendigo means servant of Nebo, another Babylonian God, and so what the guyswere doing is smart. There they're taking these people's identity that iscreated in God. It's built kind of like into their namethat they were worshipping God, and they were extracting that and replacingit with the new culture and the new way of thinking, and so it's important toknow that your identification influences your interpretation, and so we might not get new names todayin our culture like no one's coming up to you and calling you different names,but aren't we good at giving people labels like Oh you're over there with thatperson label? You went to that thing, Oh label. Youdid that label and those labels determine like. Oh, you can't work hereif you're that label- or you can't have an account over here with that label,or you can't do that with this label like we are so good in our culture withlabeling categorizing people to do...

...if they do certain things or if theyare a certain way, and we have these labels that we place on ourselves andthe labels influence the way we interpret the world around us and howdo you label yourself like when, when as difficult circumstance comes intoyour life? What do you say about yourself? Sometimes we might use labels like youknow what this always happens to me or I deserve that or I'm not goodenough. I never am going to be good enough and we use labels to describe ourselvesin a situation, and we also use labels to describe the circumstance thathappens in our life like have you ever used the phrase? Maybe this last yearthis was the worst year ever or my boss is the worst boss in thehistory of the world. This is terrible. I can't believe I work for this personor I can't believe that my life is going this way. This is terrible. It'snever going to be good enough. You know what it might be. I I might be true, butthere is more to it than that and if we just use labels like that, your labelinfluences your interpretation of the events that you are going through, and so I think we should reclaim some of thelabels that we use like. Let's take back the ways we identify who we areand the circumstances that we find ourself in so one of the things I liketo do as I'm preaching and teaching there's a I love to encourage you toengage in a way that you feel comfortable with and it this takespractice because it's like how do you talk and how do we talk together? Ittakes practice, but one of the tools that I like to use is I like toencourage you sometimes to look at the person next to you like pick the pick,the one that's next to you and tell them. I am somebody, that's your way ofsaying I am you know, that's a label tell him, I am somebody there we go. Iam love by God. My God protects me, my God is gracious to me. There we go then look at your otherneighbor, the one that you forgot about, that you didn't want to look at thebegin with and tell him my God helps me throughwhatever I'm going through there, you go there, you go. That'sawesome, that's awesome, and so then Youyou look at yourself. You LabelYourself. That way, you look at the circumstance in your life and you labelthat circumstanc and say God is using you to grow. My faith, God is using you tomake me more like Jesus God is using.

You circumstancos strengthen myrelationship with God and you tell it I'm never going to give in I'm nevergoing NA give up. I'M gonna make it through like that, is a entirelydifferent way to view the exact same circumstance that God has allowed inyour life. So remember that we're talking about acircumstance today of three guys that had the decision do they bow down andworship the big golden image, idol thing or dothey not and get thrown into the fiery furnace and they chose not to bow down. Theychose to have this circumstance grow their faith and one of the ways I thinkthat they could do. That is they remembered who they were. They might have had their names changedby the king, but they knew that they wore worshipers of the true and livinggone and they didn't let them they didn't. Let themselves forget that, and so you might wonder, though, it'slike how do you grow your faith in your God that much to make a decision likethat, like I would die for this decision, and you know what you don't end up atthe top of a mountain by accident. You you get there one step at a time, andthe same thing happened with these guys again in Daniel Chapter, one in thisreeducation program that started with renaming their names. They also gave them food to eat, andthis food was was offered to the idols and and the gods of the Babylonians andand the these guys Daniel Shaterack me chack an Abenda go. They said we're notgoing to give into that. Where y are going to stay true to our God and thelaw that he's given us and they even tested the situation was like hey, comeback to us after thes time period I over and see, if we're just as strongas everybody else, and certainly God was with them and they were- and it waspretty incredible. But how did they make a decision in the moment again?Well Daniel Chapter, one verse? Eight, we read that Daniel was determined notto defile himself, and I love those words. He was determined. Anothertranslation said he purposed in his heart, like the decision was alreadymade before the circumstance ever showed up, because you know, when isthe worst time to make a decision in the moment like if you wait to decide what you'regoing to do when you show up at the place, it's going to be a bad decision.If you decide, are you going to watch this video or not when you're alreadyon the website, you probably are going to make the wrong decision if you showup to somewhere- and you say I don't...

...know if I'm going to drink that or not,but you make the decision in the moment, you're probably going to make the wrongdecision in the moment is the worst time to make a decision. You want topre, decide pree, determine purpose in your heart, even right now, whereyou're seated right in this place to say when the circumstance comes, whenthe situation arises, I know what I'm going to do. I decided what I'm goingto do. That's what Daniel did and- and I love that this little lesson was oneof the lessons that our football coach in college gave us he would, he would,you know, have a meeting before the game and he would call you know. We'dAl be sitting there. All the players and he'd say to us he's, like you know,you're going to have a great game today and we're going to win and it's goingto be exciting and, and then the next day is Sunday and it's like. Well, youdon't have anything to do on Sunday and then school starts again on Monday, andso what do all the football players in college do on Saturday night? Will they go and have a good time right,and so the football coach told our team he's like you have to decide right nowwhat you're going to do tonight? He says if you wait until you show upafter the game and all everyone's doing. You know what they're going to do it'sgoing to be too late and you're just goingto go with the flow. You got todecide right now. What you're going to do- and I think it's a great lesson-that's what Daniel did that's what these guys did they purposed in theirheart. They knew they were determined that no matter what circumstance wascoming their way that they were choosing to follow and obey gone, and I think we can do the exact samething, and so these three guys they had thatchoice that difficult choice right. Do they fall down and worship the idol ordo they stay true to their God and face the possibility of a fiery furnace andthey knew what decision they were going to make because they knew who they were.They knew their identity was in God, and they knew that their God was goingto be with them was with them, because they had predetermined that they werealready going to choose to obey God, no matter what was going to happen, and so the king gave them one more chance when predetermined, you will trust theking gave them one more chance. He said, Shat Rack, Mi shakand a Benago, they replied, Oh king, Thetbi, canezzer.We do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into theblazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue usfrom your power. Your Majesty, like what incredible faith that they couldstare right at this king and say. I believe that my God can save us fromyou...

...andthe most powerful man in the world.My God is bigger than you and God can rescue you from any circumstance anytrial any difficulty. In a moment it could be gone and if you need him to show up in thatway in your life, just ask him because she wants to. Hewants to be there and he can, and he sometimes will change a circumstance ina moment and make it completely different or change it begoten with Tim,because sometimes an maybe you've heard it said this before preacher say hissometimes something like you know, God helps those who help themselves. Youever heard that before I don't think it's true. I think it'svery very wrong because God helps those who need help and if you need helpGod's ready willing and able to help you no matter what situation, no matter.What struggle, no matter, what you're going through he is ready, willing andable to help you just call out to him and to be able to believe and to trustlike that, no matter what situation you're facing like that is a awesomelevel of faith. It's a it's a strong level of faith, but we're not just trusting in a Godthat does good things for us right like we're, not just trusting that yeah. Youknow it's all good if he, if he does do what we want them to do, no we'retrusting in a personal God in a relational God and in a person not justin the actions that he can do, and so the way that Shadrakmisha, an AbendagoEXPRESSD. This level of trust is in these next verse. Here he said,but even if he doesn't, which is incredible because theybelieve that God could and would and will save them. But then they've stillrecognize that there is a possibility that, even if he doesn't, we want tomake it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods orworship the gold statue you have set up- and this is the kind of faith that Iwant to see- God develop in your life that no matter what happens in yourlife, no matter what circumstances come into your life that you can choose totrust in God that you will continue to serve him,that you ill continue to obey him. Even if this is the key, even if thesituation doesn't go, the way that you thought it was going to go because you're not trusting in thistransactional, do good for me, God you're, trusting in a person, personalrelationship with God, the God, the creator of the universe. And how do youget this kind of level of faith of...

...trust Wel? You have to have an eternalperspective. Don't you the Shatrak, be check in a ben to go they're like ifyou throw me in the fiery furnace, our God can bring me out of there andit's going to be good and that's a win. But if you throw me into the fieryfurnace and he chooses not to save us and bring us out of the fire, then weget to be with him forever in heaven. And you know what that's a win too.It's a Wen win situation, so King Debe Can Azor do whatever you want to do,because we win in the end, and I think that's an incredible level of trustbecause we're trusting in God and not just what he can do for us. And so what happens. King Nebycannezzerwas furious with Shatrack mechacking, a Bendago that his face became distortedwith rage. He commanded that the furnace beheated seven times hotterthan usual. Then he ordered some of the strongest man in his army to buyindStadric mechack, ing a Benda go and throw them into the blazing furnace, and so they tied them up and threw theminto the furnace fully dressed in their pants. Turbans robes and other garments,and because the king and his anger had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace,the flames killed the soldiers as they threw, the three men in so shadreck mecheck in Abenago,securely tied fell into the roaring flames, and I love the visual of thembeing tied up with those ropes securely time, because so often we live our lifetied up with things. Don't we habits ways of thinking places that we go patterns of livingthat we just can't seem to break loose from those ropes? Those ties, but God use the fire, the break free their ropes, and I believe that that's often timeswhat God uses the circumstances in your life to do as well. He allows these circumstances to changeyour conduct and your character and those things that hold you back. Thasthings that hold you down those things that control your life. They can bemelted away, they can be gotten rid of. Finally, it's like a wakeup call as asmack in the face. Whatever metaphor, you want to use it's like. Sometimes wejust need to experience the harsh, the difficulty, the fire. So that we have alittle motivation to maybe delete that apt that we should have deleted a longtime ago or that contact that we shouldn't be in our phone or whateverthe case may be. For us, we use the fire to get rid of those things andthat's what happened to these guys. I mean they went in an and the ropes wereburned off, but then suddenly...

Hebikinnasser jumped up in amazementand exclaime to his advisors. Didn't we tie up three men and throw them intothe furnace? Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did they replied, look Netbe, Cunaza shouted! I see fourmen unbound walking around in the fire onharm and the fourth looks like a God. God is with you in the fire and now we don't know hundred percentfor sure how God showed up there or who that was,of course, but many scholars. Many people believe that that is Jesusshowing up in the Old Testament. You know before he was born and wecelebrate that on Christmas, because Jesus is eternal. He existed before. Hewas born at a you know, two husand year or twosand years ago. Six Hundred Yearslater after these events were recorded, so this is Jesus showing up in thismoment to these people in the fire and there's not many times in the OldTestament that we see this preincarnate Jesus showing up- and this is a specialspecial moment- and the big word for that is called a cristophony Christ,showing up in a in a physical kind of way. The God is with these guys intheir deepest darkest moment of deepest need. Jesus shows up, God, shows up inan incredibly personal way and then Netby canezzer came as closeas he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted Shatrak Mi cheking a ben ago, servanceof the most tight God come out here, come here, so shatrack meetchecking a better gosteped out of the fire, then the high officers, official govenorce advisors,crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them, not a hairon their heads with singe and their clothing was not scorced. They didn'teven smell like smoke. I love this point because I think God has broughtyou through some stuff and when people look at you when we talk when Imeet with, you know, meet you and you tell me the things that you've beenthrough. Maybe someone said this to you alreadyyou've been through that, like, like you, went through thatsituation and you're still, okay, you were able to survive growing up inthat kind of household, and God brought you through that no way, I would havenever guessed that, because our God is that good. He is that gracious. He isthat strong and powerful that no matter what you face in your life, it doesn'thave to continue to define who you are for the rest of your life like we.These guys went through the fire and they're looking at him, like you, don'teven smell like smoke and you've been through some stuff, and you don't haveto smell, like that. You don't have to be defined by that it doesn't have tohold you back. You've Browen through...

...that guys been with you each step ofthe way. Anso we've made it this far in the story, so we might as well finishit. So here's how it ends ohwent too far. I don't have a slide for this. Sa' readit. Then net becazer said praise to the God of Shatraknichek and a Bentego. Hesent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him they defied theking's command and were willing to die rather than server worship, any Godexcept their own God. Therefore, I make this decree if any people, whatever therace or nation or language, speak a word against the God, O Sharick meshaking a Benago. They will be torn limb from limb and their houses wher.We turn it the heaps of rubble, thereis, no other God who can rescue likethislike. What a testimony these guys were to the entire world, the choicethat they made and then the king promoted, Chatrick mecheck an Abendagoto even higher positions in the province of Babylon, like they werebetter off after going through the fire, they were refined by the fire, and somy question to you we close today, who will? Will you allow circumstances thatGod allows in your life to change your character and your conduct? You don'tflet the circumstances, turn you away from God. Don't let the difficulty pushyou away from God allow the circumstances God uses to grow yourfaith, and you can do that if you remember who God is that he is good, heis loving and he's got your best in mind, and you can do that when you knowwho you are your identity in Christ, that you are a child of God that youare loved you're forgiving. You are born into the family of God, and youcan do that if you preed the side that no matter what you face in your life,that you are going to trust in God that you are going to follow him, that youare going to live for him and that no matter what difficultcircumstance God allows he is with you right there in the moment, and if you do that, I believe that Godwill use whatever circumstance. Hou brings into your life to grow yourfaith. God will show up for you no matter what it is. You going through, and now you might not have God show upphysically thatd be cool he did and in because he doesn't show upphysically. Sometimes we doubt don't we we sometimes feel like really gode. Areyou really there and it's in those moments that I justencourage you to always always always look back and turn back and rememberthe cross, because whenever we forget that, if Godcares about us, if God is really there, there was an event two thousand yearsago, where God literally died for you likethese guys, they thought it was worth dying for to trust and obey God. Godthought you were worth dying for and he...

...died on the cross in your place. He wasburied in Roseagain the third day, soid, that anyone who puts their faith andtrust in him can be saved can have their sins. Forgiven have new life,eternal life, and we see this image of the Gospel played out so clearly inthis story of Shadrack Misheck in a Benago, don't we how many people wentinto the fiery furnace? This isn't a trick question three people how many people were inthe fiery furnace for people, how many people came out of the fiery furnace? What happened to the last one? It's a great picture of God, absorbingthe fire being there in the fire taking that trial that difficulty that pain,that punishment for our sin, taking that in our place so that we can getfree, it's a beautiful, beautiful picture of how Jesus would do that forus so that we could be set three and if you are making a decision this mthis morning that, like it's clicking, it's making sense of what Jesus hasdone for you like I'd love to hear about that. I'd, love for you to justmarket on a connection card or talk to me afterwards. I'd love to pray withyou and help you answer those questions, that's what the first step group isreally designed to do. So I encourage you to ask those questions and talkabout that when we get there as well, but for all of us, God wants to grow your faith and he's using difficult circumstances,oftentimes to do exactly that and he's placed us in rooms like this, withpeople around that want to help you grow in your faith, to help youinterpret the things God, as allowed into your life, to to see that God isreally working and for many of us, this pandemic time has been really difficult, and it's been caused. A lot ofcircumstances that we wouldn't have chosen otherwise, and one of the things it has done. Ithas caused us to feel really alone hasn't it divided us made us segregated indifferent rooms or houses or, however, they've done it, and that's like the greatest tactic ofthe enemy is to feel like when you're going through something that you're theonly one who's going through it. Right and that's just not true I mean God iswith you and so many other people are with you. There is another in the firewith you.

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