Dealing with Pressures of Life

October 23, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Last week we talked about dealing with Pressures in life in the first part of a new series called “Down But Not Out”. I wanted to post the notes from the message so that you could review what we looked at and see how God’s Word in Daniel 3 may be applied in your life.

 

Series:            Down But Not Out

Part 1:             Pressures

Date:              10/21/12

 

John 16:33

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Last week—putting God on trial (Exodus 17)

1)    The world is a wilderness

2)    God provides life in the wilderness

3)    This life is only available because God—himself—entered the wilderness and received our punishment

Christianity is the only faith that deals realistically and honestly with suffering

Suffering will do one of two things

  • It will make you nastier/mean, bitter/sad
  • Or a more God seeking, loving, tenderhearted, compassionate person
  • BUT IT WILL NOT LEAVE YOU WHERE YOU WERE

Put another way… When suffering comes into your life it will either

1)    Make God look big in your eyes and you become small

2)    Make you look big in your eyes and God becomes small

“The same sun that softens wax, hardens clay”

  • Everything depends on the kind of heart you’ve got
  • Is it clay of wax?
  • Is it essentially out for you?
  • Or is it essentially out for God?

From Medical News Today website

We generally use the word “stress” when we feel that everything seems to have become too much – we are overloaded and wonder whether we really can cope with the pressures placed upon us. Anything that poses a challenge or a threat to our well-being is a stress. Some stresses get you going and they are good for you – without any stress at all many say our lives would be boring and would probably feel pointless.

Ill—Microorganism in perfect conditions dies

  • Temperature
  • Environment
  • Food

Butterfly breaking out of cocoon

  • Break it out early—wings don’t develop

However, when the stresses undermine both our mental and physical health they are bad.

What causes pressure in your life?

a) work e) other relationships
b) finances f) time demands
c) marriage g) a particular decision
d) parenting h) school (tests)

We agree with Jesus— there is TROUBLE in this world

How do we “take heart”

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

 Put your nose to the grindstone

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog

Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps

 “A Christian is like a tea bag—he’s not worth much until he’s been through some hot water.”

“Faith is a muscle, it only becomes stronger when you use it.”

When real pressure hits—we need more than a sales pitch

Daniel 3:1-7

The Image of Gold and the Fiery Furnace

3 King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet 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, “This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language: 5 As soon as you hear the sound of the hor

n, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes 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 peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

Observations…

1)   We all worship something/someone

What or who do people worship today?

  • Athletes
  • Governments
  • Money
  • Power
  • Education
  • Talent
  • Success
  • Religion
  • Nature
  • Ourselves
  • Family

Why do people worship what they worship?

  • Brings comfort
  • Safety
  • Security
  • Significance

2)   People tell us what/who we should worship (Neb; the herald)

Why is it so important to tell people what to worship?

  1. The more people worship what we worship the better we feel about ourselves
  1. A way to control
  • New Age—You are a god
  • Democrats—Government is god
  • Republicans—capitalism is God
  • Americans—our way of life and Ideals is God
  • Christians—Jesus is God

3)   People often don’t think about what/who they worship

Gold statue—90 ft. high and 9 ft. wide

  • It would be like us worshipping statue of liberty

But what do we worship?

  • Is it any less ridiculous?
    • Money
    • Job
    • person

Here, what is really the object of worship? (is it the statue)

  • King Nebuchadnezzar

Daniel 3:8-12

8 At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. 9 They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10 You have issued a decree, O king, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes 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, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”

4)   People will resent you for worshipping something different than what they worship

We all are trying to convince others to worship what we are worshipping

  • Yet we get mad when someone else does it to us

This was not from love—that was not the astrologers’ motive

  • the word “denounced” is a very strong word (8 At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews.)

–       it means “to slander with hostility”

–       They hated Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

  • More a result of jealousy, anger, bitterness, racism
  • Try to make it personal with the king

Here’s how the king responds…

Daniel 3:12-15

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, pipes 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?”

Now I want you to notice something very interesting here…

–       The king thinks that he’s asking them a rhetorical question

Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

When someone asks you a rhetorical question are they looking for an answer?

–       NO—they’re trying to make a point

Parents do this a lot

–       “Do you want a spanking? Do you want a time out?”

When parents say this they aren’t looking for an answer—they’re trying to make a point

–       Quit doing what you’re doing or you will get in trouble

When Nebuchadnezzar asks, “What god will rescue you from my hand?”—he’s not looking for an answer

–       He’s trying to make a point

–       That the fate of three young men rests solely in his hands… and if they don’t comply, there’s no way out

–       He is in control

–       He has the power—of life and death

–       And, therefore, if he demands worship…

–       He deserves worship

So the king must have been pretty surprised when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered his rhetorical question!

–       He’s how they respond in verse 16…

Daniel 3:16-18

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O 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 save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

 

1) God is able to rescue you from the fiery furnace

17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it

When we face a “fiery furnace” in our lives—when we face something that looks really bad, feels really bad, smells really bad

–       we will invariably experience something called “FEAR”

  • fear of the future
  • fear of consequences
  • fear of loss
  • fear of pain
  • fear of change

–       And FEAR can often lead to doubt

  • Doubts about God—who he is and what he can do… or will do

Do you believe that God is able to rescue you from the fiery furnace?

I know that some of you will answer “YES” right away

Because we have a God who is able—isn’t that the God we came to worship today?

–       the God that can part the Red Sea

–       and destroy the walls of Jericho

–       and drop a giant with a single stone?

We know the stories…

–       And sometimes it’s easy to acknowledge with our minds—Yeah, God is able

But there are other times when our heart lags behind

Because if God is really able—why doesn’t he do something?

I mean, if God is able…

–       Why is my pain so deep?

–       Why is my struggle so hard?

–       Why am I missing the joy that he promised

Here’s why…

The truth is… even though God is able…

–       He may allow you to face the furnace

Daniel 3:19-23

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.

2) God may allow you to enter the fiery furnace

I wonder how many times Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego prayed for God to change their situation there in Babylon

–       Maybe they prayed that God would just convert King Nebuchadnezzar

–       Or they might have prayed that this crazy order to bow down to the statue would just be rescinded—the King would reconsider and come to his senses

–       Or maybe they prayed that Daniel would just have enough influence to protect God’s people even in Babylon

 

But now they’re standing before the King

–       And it seems like none of those prayers will be answered

They have even proclaimed their faith

[17] If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.

[18] But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

What happens?

  • Nebuchadnezzar flexes his muscles and turns up the heat (literally)

And they are thrown into the furnace

  • Evil triumphs
  • Power trumps faith

Daniel 3:24-26

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, O king.”

25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and un

harmed, 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!”

Now who is this fourth man in the flames?

–       The text doesn’t tell us, but I believe that it’s Jesus in one of those rare Old Testament appearances before the incarnation—before he comes to our world as a baby in Bethlehem

And if that’s the case, I wonder what the conversation might have been like between Jesus and these three young Jewish men in the flames

–       I wonder if Jesus told them how proud God was of them for their courage and devotion

–       I wonder if Jesus told them that their names were going to be written in God’s book so that for generations to come people would look at that story and learn a very valuable lesson

What is the lesson?

3) If God allows you to enter a fiery furnace, he will meet you there

–       The place where full devotion takes you may look dangerous and scary, maybe painful—but that’s the place you meet Jesus.

Somehow many Christians have gotten the idea that following Jesus is supposed to make your life easy and comfortable

But consider this… How many heroes of the faith had easy lives?

–       When Jesus called people to follow him he basically promised them two things…

–       He said, “Come follow me, and here’s what you’ll have…

  • #1 a ton of trouble
  • But promised something else… He said you’ll have indescribable joy

And where do you find that joy?

–       In the fiery furnace—when you make a choice to walk with Jesus through the flames

Will the fiery furnace push you away from God or pull you closer to him?

 Because those are really the two options…

God may allow you to enter the fiery furnace… but he also promises to meet you there

And this is the big question:       DO YOU BELIEVE THAT?

  • Do you believe that Jesus loves you that much?

4) If God allows you to enter a fiery furnace, he will use it for a good purpose

Ropes were burned away

  • 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace.
  • 25 “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed

Any of the pressures we face as believers can be looked at one of two ways…

  • They are refining and defining me for greater impact here on this earth
    • Freeing me of the things that bind me
    • The fears that paralyze me
  • They will take me home to be with the one who loves me like no other

How do I know?

  • Jesus went into the fire for me… alone

At the cross

  • No rescue
  • No relief

When you wonder if God understands what you are going through, remember that Jesus went into a fiery furnace for YOU.

  • He does care
  • He does know your pain
  • He died to save you and make it so that we can be with him forever

 

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