07-21-2019

Dr. E. Dale Locke and Rev. Trevor Johnston

Sermon Series:  Promiseland

Week 3:  Another in the Fire1. 

Continue to memorize 2 Peter 1:4:Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

Review: 

Week 1 Promise from Daniel 1: 
God blesses and uses our obedience.

Week 2 Promise from Daniel 2: 
God reveals things to those who seek Him.

2.  Read Daniel 3:1-30:
“King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2 He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. 3 So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it.
4 Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: 5 As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”
7 Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the nations and peoples of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
8 At this time some astrologers[b] came forward and denounced the Jews. 9 They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May the king live forever! 10 Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, 11 and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. 12 But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”
13 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 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.”
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”
25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”
So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”
30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.”

3.  What questions or comments come to your mind as you read this passage? 

4.  In Daniel 2:47 that we looked at last week, King Nebuchadnezzar had acknowledged to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.”  But we see in Daniel 3 that even after this powerful experience, the King drifted away from faith in the true God.  Why does the effect of a powerful “God moment” often tend to fade over time and the person who experienced it still drifts away from God? 

5.  Today’s promise is “God is always with you.”  Pastor Dale said that our world often assaults this belief.  Share about a time when you struggled to believe that God was with you. 

6.  Read the following passages and talk about what you notice. 

Deuteronomy 31:8:  “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Joshua 1:5:  “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Jeremiah 1:8:  “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.”

Jeremiah 42:11:  “Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you now fear. Do not be afraid of him, declares the Lord, for I am with you and will save you and deliver you from his hands.”

Matthew 28:20b: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

When we trust God is always with us…
Our emotions don’t have to control us.

7.  Compare how Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego managed their emotions with how King Nebuchadnezzar managed his emotions.  Why were the king’s emotions so out of control?

8.  One of the most difficult emotions to control is fear.  Read Joshua 1:9:  “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  If you’ve ever struggled with fear, worry or anxiety, share with the group what has helped you overcome those.

When we trust God is always with us….
We lose our fear of people.

9.  Pastor Dale said, “God’s promises are the antidote to much of what drives us to respond in unhealthy ways.”  Read Hebrews 13:5b-6: “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can mere mortals do to me?’”  If you are willing, share about a time when you had an unhealthy fear of people or what people might think of you.  What was driving that?

When we trust God is always with us….
We don’t fear death.

10.  Notice the phrase in Daniel 3:18, “even if he does not.” We see that these men knew God could save them if he chose to, but they had already settled in their hearts, that even if God chose not to save them, they weren’t going to worship a false God.  Pastor Dale pointed out that this is about the issue of sovereignty, which means “God is God, and we are not.”  What did Pastor Dale mean by that? 

When we trust God is always with us….
It empowers our obedience.

11.  Obeying God can be difficult in a culture that doesn’t honor Him.  Describe some ways that our current culture makes it difficult to obey God and do life God’s way.

When we trust God is always with us….
We experience Jesus.

12.  Look again at Daniel 3:25.  The question of who was the fourth man in the fire is somewhat of a mystery.  It could have been an angel, but many theologians believe it was Jesus himself with them.  Name some situations you will face in the coming weeks, where it will help you to know that Jesus is with you.

13.  Share about a past event from your life where you experienced God’s faithful presence in a difficult time, and then tell how this memory impacts you today. 

At the end of his message, Pastor Dale read the following foundational truths about life with God from John Ortberg’s book, God is closer than you think.

– God is always present and active in my life, whether or not I see him.

– Coming to recognize and experience God’s presence is learned behavior; I can cultivate it.

– My task is to meet God in this moment.

– Ι am always tempted to live “outside” this moment. When I do that, I lose my sense of God’s presence.

– Sometimes God seems far away for reasons I do not understand. Those moments, too, are opportunities to learn.

– Whenever I fail, I can always start again right away.

– Νο one knows the full extent to which a human being can experience God’s presence.

– My desire for God ebbs and flows, but his desire for me is constant.

– Every thought carries a “spiritual charge” that moves me a little closer to or a little farther from God.

– Every aspect of my life – work, relationships, hobbies, errands – is of immense and genuine interest to God.

– My path to experiencing God’s presence will not look quite like anyone else’s.

– Straining and trying too hard do not help.

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