The recording cut off prematurely so here is the two points that were not recorded.
God is using this to …
1. Cause His church to Cling to God.
The best way to cling to God is pray.
Psalm 50:15 Call on me in the day of distress. I will deliver you, and you will honour me.”
So, what is God saying?
Pray, pray, pray.
Scripture says Daniel prayed 3x per day.
Google searches on “prayer” have skyrocketed since the coronavirus started spreading around the world and bringing waves of sickness, isolation, and death.
As the old adage says, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”
In suffering and danger, we cry out to God for help.
As the Lord invites some of us into a forced Sabbatical, where we are forced, or should I say invited to slow down, we are given more space to make room for God. Listen. Quiet ourselves to hear His voice. Cast our cares on Him. Pause to reflect on His goodness. Be reminded of His faithfulness. Just be quiet in His presence. All prayer.
In times like this we can come up with all sorts of reasons to drop our regular routines, spiritual rituals of prayer. Allow stress and worry to throw us into a state of confusion where these things are dropped. Interesting, Daniel is facing immanent persecution, and he keeps making space for God.
I believe this is an invitation to Cling to God.
2. Cling to One Another.
Might seem like an oxymoron to say we are called to cling to one another when we’re asked to socially isolate from one another.
So, I am not telling you to do this literally.
But in this season, you will come up with all sorts of reasons to be alone, to not fellowship.
But there’s no time like now where the church needs to cling to one another.
Huge temptation for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to bow down to the gods of the age.
But they remained faithful to Yahweh. At great cost.
How did they do it? Yes, scripture highlights their faith in God. They stayed true. Remained faithful.
But the other piece very much part of this text is the “one another” piece. They committed to stand firm, together. They did so as a team, not alone. They made a commitment together. And they went into the flames together.
So, as you walk through this fire, who’s your Shadrach? Who’s your Meshach? Who’s with you in the flames?
If you’re part of the body of Christ, you are not alone.
The book of Acts gives this word “one another” and uses it 27 X.
Paul and Silas travelled together. Peter and James were together. Paul had a Barnabas. John Mark had Barnabas. Jesus had Peter, James and John. Shadrach, had Meshach and Abednego.
As followers of Jesus we are never alone. You are part of the Body.
COVID is an invitation to One Anotherness. To Cling to One Another.
If you feel alone, it’s an invitation to share the burden. Open your heart and let yourself be known, so you can supported and prayed for.
If someone feels alone, it’s our task to seek them out and be present. Be with. Listen. Support.
But even if you’re supported by all sorts of people, the ultimate support is that we have God who’s with us in the flames.
A God who’s with us in the Lion’s Den.
Paul said these words in 2 Tim. 4:17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed, and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered out of the Lions mouth.”
This promise is just as true today as it was for Daniel.
Daniel 3 says that when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into the fire, God met them in the flames. Vs. 24-25 says, “But suddenly Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisors, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?” “Yes, your majesty, we certainly did”, they replied. “Look!”. Nebby shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like God.”
God is with you, with me in the furnace. He promises to never leave or forsake us.
Ps. 27:9-10 says, “Do not turn your back on me. Do not reject your servant in anger. You have always been my helper. Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me, O God of my salvation.! Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.”
Being invited into the ultimate community, Father, Son and Spirit is the ultimate fellowship.
Now is this a guarantee of safety?
I like how Dallas Willard says it. “This world is a perfectly safe place to be — as long as you’re living with Jesus in the Kingdom of God.” (This is a paraphrase from The Divine Conspiracy, p. 66.)
Do you believe that? Do you trust that you are safe in Jesus’ arms? In the furnace. In the Lion’s Den?
Whatever your worst-case scenario is, do you believe you are safe in Jesus’ Kingdom?
We’re vulnerable to pain and evil, so from that view, our world is not safe. So how can we have real hope?
The same way Daniel had hope. The same way the three friends had hope.
Dallas Willard defines hope this way. “Hope is the anticipation of good.” Hope is the gushing spring that gives rise to faith and love (Colossians 1:5) — as well as joy, peace, self-discipline and all of the Spirit’s fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). Real hope like this is an anchor for your soul (Hebrews 6:19).
Daniel – a book with a pattern and a promise
Pattern – Yes human beings become beasts when they don’t acknowledge God’s Kingdom of Love.
And pursue another Kingdom.
But the Promise is that God will one day confront the beast and rescue His world. That one day we will experience the healing justice of God’s reign and rule.
These stories, this message was written for us, for our generation, just like all previous generations.
Designed to speak a message of hope that is meant to motivate faithfulness. Just like Daniel.
Just like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, hearts filled with trust.