Stand: Stories of Courage

Introduction:
We as Christians tend to compartmentalize our lives. That means there are parts of our life that are open to God and parts that are not. In very much the same way, in our public persona, we can be polite and smile, and play our role. Privately, we can be a completely different person. As a Christian, we often treat God the same way. Yes, we want Him to come into our heart, but not in a certain corridor or area of our life. We want a relationship with God that is on our own terms, and a transformation that is based on which parts of our life are off limits to God. We have a hard time understanding that God is not there to make us happy or as a security blanket. God governs everything and wants access to every part of our lives. I believe the reason for this discrepancy is that we are failing to see God for who He truly is. God is too small in our eyes.

Something To Talk About:
Know what is right ahead of time: In other words, think before we act or speak. This is important because if we merely study the word of God, and don’t put it into practice, then faith is nothing more than an intellectual exercise. It is what we do every day that defines and demonstrates our faith, and for that reason we need to be intentional about how to go about it. In all that you do, understand that your behavior is your most powerful witness to others. All of your best words and impressive pronouncements will become meaningless if your actions go in a different direction. Start with your knowledge of what is right in the situation. Review your decisions before you make them. An example of that is the story of the fiery furnace and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
Do what is right every time: Start with your knowledge of what is right in the situation. Add your desire to do the right thing. We all make a lot of decisions and in most cases we make the right decisions. But we should also learn from the times we don’t make the right decisions. When we have jumped the wrong way, there is usually a pin point moment when we made that decision that we can remember. Find that reason, source, or input and use that as a lesson for the future. Do the right thing by focusing on the greatness of God. Remind yourself who you are living for.
Be gracious all the time: God cares about us doing what is right but with the right attitude. It means we are to display grace in all situations. I remember hearing a story of a man who got stuck in traffic and returned his rental car 57 minutes late to the Avis counter at the Atlanta airport. Assuming he would be charged for the extra time he asked the Avis rental desk attendant, “How much do I owe?” The attendant says, “Nothing. You’re all clear.” The person admitted to being late, but the attendant smiled and said, “yes, but there’s a one-hour grace period.” That is grace. What it means is that even though you’re supposed to pay, you don’t have to. We should learn to give others a grace period and do the right thing by showing them grace.

Questions:

  1. What happens when we compartmentalize Christianity in our lives?
  2. The bottom line for the Stand series is how do we stand out in the right ways, at the right time and for the right reason? What does this mean and what are some ways to implement this advice going forward?
  3. Obviously it’s not a good idea to compromise when it comes to doing the right thing. What are some things that we sacrifice when we choose to give into temptation in any area in our lives?
  4. What are you willing to risk in order to obey God?
  5. What’s the bottom-line message of Daniel chapter 3 and what does the story of the fiery furnace mean to you?

Take One Thing Home with You:
The amazing story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in Daniel chapter 3, has captured the hearts of young children as well as adults for centuries. For their refusal to obey the king’s decree, to bow down to the idol, the penalty was death.

We should learn that in times of trial and persecution our attitude should reflect that of these three young men: “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.” (Daniel 3:18). Without question, these are some of the most courageous words ever spoken. They took a stand, one founded in their astonishing faith in the one true God. Their acknowledgment of God over the world’s most powerful king resulted in God’s power being revealed to the king and unbelievers.

The chief lesson from the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is that, as Christians, we will never be able to bring the world to Christ by becoming like it. Rather, we should be revealing to the world a higher power, a greater purpose, than the world in which we live. If we face the fiery furnace, we can reveal the One who can deliver us from it. Remember the powerful, yet comforting words, of the apostle Paul:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego give us a striking example of how to take a stand, not only courageously, but graciously and effectively. To take a stand for Christ, “show up” and do what you can do. You take a stand by your behavior, your attitude, and your quiet resolve not to compromise. Just “show up” in the sense of siding with Jesus. Show your commitment and love for the Savior, and He will use you as He used Daniel and his friends.