God is with Us

God With Us


Introduction:

For those of you who don’t know me (which is probably most of you because I am kind of an introvert) my name is Sean and I am the Church Secretary or record keeper. It has been my honor and privilege to work with Pastor Mike and the rest of the church board to serve the CLC community through this interesting time in CLC’s history, For those of you who don’t know Pastor Mike is working on his Doctorate which is an extreme amount of work so I volunteered to come out of the bullpen whenever needed to help out. 

Insert Daniel chapter 3

3 King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. 

2 Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent to gather the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 

3 Then the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 

4 And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, 

5 that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 

6 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” 

7 Therefore, as soon as all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, all the peoples, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

8 Therefore at that time, certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. 

9 They declared to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 

10 You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. 11 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. 

12 There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar, in furious rage, commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. 

14 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 

15 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.[c] 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?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 

17 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, O king. 

18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. 

20 And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 

21 Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. 

22 Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 

23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 

25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 

28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside[f] the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 

29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” 

30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

I chose this story because I believe all of us in our own way are going through our version of an incinerator right now. I know many people listening have been sick or know people who have been sick. I know many people have lost their job or hours or financial resources in general. I know many people have lossed loved ones this year. Time magazine published an article showing the skyrocketing rates of depression in the united states. Cases of moderate to severe depression are up 300% since March when the pandemic hit our country. I know many of us have asked in our prayer closets God where are you! And God is here today to tell you to tell me to tell the sick to tell the poor to tell all those who suffer I am here I don’t leave I don’t give up I was here before you went into the fire I will be here standing at your side through the fire and I will be here when we emerge from the fire.  

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were willing to have their body’s incinerated for God. Their faith gives me hope. The most telling part of the story is that even if God did not save them they would not bow their knees. They did not care if God rescued them or not. The furnace could burn their physical bodies but it would not burn away their faith in God. My 8 year old son has a saying. Whenever we would be watching something long or reading a book that had a particularly difficult middle. He would say “oh just skip to the end”. I read a lot online and I love the 2020 jokes. I saw one where they had Marty Mcfly and Doc Brown in the Dolorean from the Back to the Future movies and Doc Brown is telling Marty “No matter what you do, don’t travel to 2020!” How many of us would like to skip to the end? Luckily for me, I have a 16 year old daughter so I’ve been in the furnace for a few years now, I was ready for 2020.

But seriously…….

I know how hot it feels in this furnace. In March right around the time of my 40th birthday I had my hours cut back by 90% at work. In the summer I would greet Pilots who were renting from me who would tell me how they had been flying flights with less than 10 people on board or in some cases no people at all. In September as the pandemic showed no sign of abating I was laid off from my job. I can just imagine how Shadrach Meshach and Abednego felt. They were violently grabbed tied up and thrown into the fire. The mocking of the crowds Im sure everyone cheered and laughed at the 3 men who were not afraid of the king. But when there skin felt the warmth of the furnace and realized they were in no pain….. when they looked at each other in amazement and realized they were not burnt they were not harmed they were protected!. And then when they dared to look out of the corner of their eyes they saw that not only had they been saved but standing with them in their corner side by side they were with what the Bible Describes as what resembled the son of God. Theologians can debate but my personal belief is God didn’t just send his angels to protect them he sent Jesus to stand with them in the furnace the same Jesus who stands with us today in our furnace who is here to comfort to protect us. In the darkest time of your life, when you feel the most alone – when you feel the heat coming in all around you – know that we serve the same God that is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is not there just waiting for your trial to end – he is in the furnace with you. So no matter what you’re going through today, look over your shoulder – You are not alone! God is with us!

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