I guess from the title you would expect the key scripture to be Joshua 24: 15 – “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Actually, the original scripture I read this morning that prompted these thoughts was Daniel 3: 15. In an odd kind of way, God appears to be reminding me that the truth of His Word is interwoven. The truth declared by Joshua, or the truth declared by Daniel, or the truth declared by the Apostle Paul serves as the truth that is to guide my life.
As I began my day this morning, I looked to a devotional from Experiencing God Day by Day. It was entitled a “Facing a God-Sized Choice.” The scripture was Daniel 3: 15 and reads this way in the ESV -- “Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”
Though this was the dilemma before the persons of choice Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego at that moment, it is also the choice of each of us each day. No, we are not “thrown into the fiery furnace” or the lions’ den as Daniel for our choices (at least at the moment in this country), but we face similar God-sized choices. You might ask, “What is a God-sized choice?” I think the answer is anything that calls you to abandon God’s ways and put on the world’s.
Joshua came to that point, challenged God’s people with the truth that they had to choose, and boldly declared the choice he had made in his household. In Daniel 3: 15, as well as elsewhere in Daniel with the choice of Daniel, Daniel and these three men faced the choice to abandon God and worship man.
When I read the Daniel 3 account, I immediately thought of our youth lesson the other night. Thus the scripture basis for this writing, Colossians 3. The idea that we are to “set our minds on things above…..” Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not wake up one morning and – out of the blue – face the dilemma of rejecting God and embrace the ways of the world, as YOUNG MEN (in their teens at the time of their capture) they resolved to follow God. They set their minds on God, determined to live in accordance with his truth, and when an earthly king who saw himself bigger than God demanded their allegiance or they would face the fiery furnace or the lions’ den, they had no reason to fret or worry. They had been experiencing the presence and security of the Living God throughout their lives and KNEW they could trust God with this passing circumstance.
Nebuchadnezzar said worship me/pray to me or I will destroy you. But they chose to worship and pray to God. This man who thought he was greater than God said, “…if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” VIVIDLY he was shown that he was not the greatest as the fourth man in the fire protected and preserved, In the Lions Den, Daniel experienced the same protection.
Yes, there have been countless Christ-followers through the ages who have made the same choice – to follow God and not the ways of man. Their story includes persecution and sometimes a martyr’s death, but still there is the presence, protection, and provision of that “fourth man” in the fire. This world is not our home. Our eyes are not on the present, they are on the prize of being with Christ for all eternity.
The Apostle Paul testified in Philippians 1: 21 that “to live is Christ, to die is gain.” He had learned what each of us needs to learn, our security is not found in ever-changing circumstance. Our security is found in Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord of all. That security enables us to live for Him daily and trust Him with every aspect of this life and the life to come.
The devotional thought read this way: “Daniel's friends faced a God-sized choice: believe the government or believe God. Government offered food, shelter, and rescue from death. God offered an invisible protection from life's problems and hope for life beyond. Human wisdom had no problem making the choice. Faith faced a crisis. How do you respond today when God's ways contradict sound economic advice?”
So, the question before us today is not JUST how do we respond when God’s ways contradict the sound economic advice of the world. The question is, how do we respond when choosing God conflicts with anything and everything about the ways of the world. The other night, I challenged our youth to “set their minds on things above.” To resolve, as Daniel and his friends did at a young age, to be obedient to God NO MATTER THE WORLD. That is my counsel to the “youth” of every age.
The world is daily saying you must choose their ways. The world is saying, if you not choose the ways of the world you are foolish and you will face the consequences of your choice. The world is saying if you choose this way, there is no change of advancement or you might be “destroyed.” The Lord is saying, Trust Me—try Me-prove Me! Eternal rewards are awaiting us when we trust and obey!
I challenge you this day, to set your minds on things above and choose to follow Christ. I promise you the fulfillment that comes with complete surrender to the Living Lord!