Sunday, June 17, 2012

Even If

Even If
June 18, 2012
Daniel 3:18 "But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
There is a famous story with three exiled Israelites: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. It is so famous that little needs re-told of the story. A polytheistic king wanted these three men to bow down and worship almost anything and everything but the One True God. The three men refused. The king threatened them with being burned alive. Still they refused. Their words were amazing. The men declared that their God was able to save them from any fiery furnace. Listen to their words after that amazing confidence in the Lord: "But even if he does not [save us from the fiery furnace], we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
What an amazing testament of their dedication to the Lord. They were willing to risk being burned alive for their convictions in serving Him. We all know the ending of the story when Jesus walked in the furnace with them bringing them out alive, but would the meaning of that story change for you if you did not know the final outcome? Would it still be an amazing testament of their convictions if the Lord didn't rescue them? I would submit that it would be an even greater testimony if they had been burned alive. Thankfully, they were saved, but what if they weren't? They willingly walked into the furnace, knowing that it could have been the end. Would you or I go through with it or would we cower and cave? 
Most of us are not as bold and courageous as these three Jews. Sure, if we were confident in a favorable outcome we might be so bold, but we don't like to risk things. We rationalize and reason our own compromise in situations that might cost us something. Where is the line for you in your dedication to serving the Lord? Are you willing to risk death? How about your job? Are you willing to serve the Lord and His ways even if it means losing your job for standing up in your beliefs? When your employer asks you to compromise your Christian standards at work, do you risk being fired from your employment and refuse the compromise? Or do you rationalize the compromise? Are you willing to serve the Lord even if He does not save you from the situation, even if you lose your job over it?
We don't always want to risk our strong moral standards, but when it comes to our comfort we often look the other way instead of risking the consequences if we don't. I know I've compromised a standard or two over my life-time, chances are you've done the same. But the Lord wants us to serve Him through the difficult decisions even if He does not rescue us. We need to trust Him even if He does not seem to save us from our troubles. We need to relax in Him even if He does not remove the situations that are causing us anxiety. We need to serve Him even if it costs us something uncomfortable, maybe even losing our job, family, or friends.
And notice the three Israelites' polite words. They stood up to the king and spoke to him with respect. They still called him, "Your Majesty," out of reverence for their testimony. They did not fight him, they simply stood their moral ground with conviction, letting the Lord defend their honor. They did not call him names or insult him, they simply stated their case. You and I could learn some things from their example. Not only did they stand up for what they believed in, even if the consequences were grave, but they did so in a manner worthy of being called a child of the Lord Most High. It's time to serve the Lord, "even if."

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Job 13:15, Dan 3

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