ICE BREAKER: What is the biggest “leap of faith” you have ever made? What made it so difficult and/or important?
Pastor ended his sermon with a challenging and important point, but one that we often struggle with. He told us that we need to trust God no matter what. This is something that is really easy to say, but extraordinarily difficult to do. Today, to help us wrestle with this, I would like for us to look at a story that many of us are very familiar with, but that we may have missed the point on. Because of our familiarity with this story, it is really easy to revert back to our veggie tales (for some of us) or Sunday School (for others) thinking in this story, and as mature adults it would be of value for us to look at this story with fresh eyes. We will be looking at the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
READ: Daniel 3:8-15
For those of us who are familiar with this story, we know where this is heading, but it is good to stop here. We often think that this is a story all about following God’s rules, or God being a God who saves. But neither of those thoughts has appeared in the story so far. There is something much more profound and important at stake.
REFLECT: So far what has this passage been about? (hint, look for repeated words) Does this change at all how you interact with this story?
The word that is repeated six times in these seven verses is “worship”. This passage is, at its heart, a passage on worship, and the choice that we must all make to worship God over idols. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are faced with a problem: do we worship God or man? Do we trust in the God that we cannot see, or live by the rules of the man that can affect our lives? This is shown in clear detail with the last question King Nebuchadnezzar asks these men. He says: “Who is the God who will deliver you out of my hands?” Put slightly differently. He is basically saying: “You can see me and you can surely see this furnace that I will throw you in, but I can’t see your God anywhere! You should really bow down before the image of me.” However, in the response of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego we see the reason that we are looking at this passage today.
READ: Daniel 3:16-18
They say that the God he claims to not be able to see, is surely able to save them out of his hands. But if he doesn't, if they are forced to burn in the fire, know that they will never worship an idol. This is a perfect picture of trusting God no matter what. They are saying: even if I am thrown into a fire, I will trust God and I will obey his commands. This is a powerful lesson to us. Worship and trust go hand in hand. To trust God is to serve him and worship him, and part of worshiping God is placing our trust in him. No matter what. So to challenge you a bit today. Is your faith a “But if not” kind of faith, or do you find it shaken when God doesn't seem to answer the way that you would like? Can you say, God will cure me of this, but if not I will still serve him? Or God will surely provide for me in this situation, but if not I will still offer him all of my worship? Trusting God no matter what is tested in the difficult times far more than the easy ones.
REFLECT: How can you cultivate a “but if not” kind of faith? What does that look like in your day-to-day life? How can you encourage and challenge others to live like this?