“Unswerving Courage”

June 7, 2018

Old Windmill Farm cow and calf (Photo by Jesse Lapp)
Old Windmill Farm cow with photogenic calf a day or two old
(Photo by Jesse Lapp)

“Unswerving Courage”

Note: This week we have developed a four part series based upon four characteristics demonstrated by Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The two previous messages dealt with these characteeristics: “Uncompromising Convictions”, and “Unwavering Commitment”.

Message summary: There is an ancient and ongoing contest between two opposing worldviews; one that is raging to this day and will do so until the return of the Lord. In fact we expect it will get far more intense as God judges the world and the compromising church. Today let us make a firm resolve that we will not compromise and will remain obedient to God regardless of the consequences with unswerving courage.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand” (Daniel 3:16-17).

There are so many mistaken notions about what comprises courage these days. The consistently humorous and insightful Babylon Bee had an article (satire) titled, “Hero: This Man Was Willing To Go On The Internet And Say That Nazis Are Bad”. It tells the story of Joe Sells who “gathered his courage, threw caution to the wind, and went on the internet Friday evening to declare, definitively and categorically, that Nazis are bad.” *

In the “not satire” category but surely an indication of how crazy our culture has become several years ago the Arthur Ashe Courage Award was given to a man who pretends he’s a woman.

But there are many modern examples of genuine courage as well which are often unheralded.

Today let us examine one of the greatest demonstrations of authentic courage in the entire Bible. This week’s messages have been on the lives of Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah who are better known as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They demonstrated unwavering commitment when they refused to bow down to the golden image. Now they stand before King Nebuchadnezzar who is “furious with rage” (Daniel 3:13) and fully prepared to throw them into the fiery furnace.

He repeated the choice and gave them another chance, “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?”  (Daniel 3:15).

Their response is one of the most courageous faith statements in the Bible. “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand” (Daniel 3:16-17).

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.” Consider the boldness in saying this to the king. Other versions state, “we do not need to defend ourselves”, or “we don’t need to explain these things to you”. From a worldly perspective they had every duty to answer him but I believe in this phrase they are expressing confidence that they ultimately answer to a power infinitely higher.

“If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace.” We know what happened and how it came out, but at this point they didn’t! Yet they were confident that God is able to deliver.

“And He will deliver us out of your hand.” They knew that whatever happened they would be delivered from the hand of the proud king.

The young Hebrew men’s decision to stand faithful to the one true God was deeply settled before the time of testing came; they had no time to deliberate or justify their actions should they choose to obey. The consequence of their actions did not drive their thinking. The answer came quickly because they had been making the right choices all along. Decisions, big and small, become easier when your will to please God outweighs your will to please those in the world, including authority figures. When one bases his life on Biblical principle, the most important decisions are already made.

When given the choice between bowing down to the image of gold or being thrown in a fiery furnace they told him, “Be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:18).

Since this is a famous Bible story many readers are familiar with the miraculous outcome and their supernatural deliverance from the fiery furnace. But their decision to be faithful and obedient was not contingent upon the outcome as to whether or not they saw deliverance on this side. Whatever happened, they were not going to compromise. That’s because they had “unshakable confidence” which will be our message tomorrow.

Here’s the application lesson for today:

There is an ancient and ongoing contest between two opposing worldviews; one that is raging to this day and will do so until the return of the Lord. In fact we expect it will get far more intense as God judges the world and the compromising church. Today let us make a firm resolve that we will not compromise and will remain obedient to God regardless of the consequences with unswerving courage.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we anchor our spirit to the words of Scripture, “that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other.” Like the followers in Scripture, “We want our hearts therefore to be wholly true to the Lord our God, walking in His statutes and keeping His commandments.” If it requires that we lay down our life for You, may we do so willingly, knowing that full obedience to You on this side brings great reward in the eternal dwelling that follows. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Here are several other Bible verses on courage:

  • “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
  • “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
  • “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:20).

Old cars near Intercourse, PA 5/31/18
Driving out of Intercourse PA last week along Rt. 772 we passed these old cars.

Pan in shape of cross
We see a lot of these at greenhouses but we like the cross-shaped pan!


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

* Babylon Bee article, “Hero: This Man Was Willing To Go On The Internet And Say That Nazis Are Bad”

“I Am Persuaded”  Video  Travis Cottrell  An outstanding song based on Romans 8:38-39.

“God And God Alone”  Video  Steve Green

“Broken People Like Me”  Video  Old Paths  Although this song doesn’t necessarily go with our message today it has really been ministering to both of us, in part due to Ester’s current (and ongoing) health struggles. Today we think of those we work with in our chaplaincy facing brokenness of various types; a friend whose wife had a stroke and is at the edge, a young couple who just lost their infant daughter, another whose mother-in-law has Alzheimer’s, a father dealing with the ups and downs of a son fighting addiction. Indeed addictions are one of our most common discussion issues. And so many more.

“Just When You Thought”  Video  Joseph Habedank  Great song!

Update on Ester:  Thank you, praying friends, for remembering Ester and her parents in prayer. So many sent notes. Thank you! She went for lab work today and will see her doctor in a couple of weeks. We’ll update you accordingly.

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: