Thursday, February 27, 2020 -
I just returned from chapel service, and my friend “JS” preached this afternoon. He was the pastor of a very large church outside of Chicago. I do not know the circumstances of why he is in prison, but I do know he is very repentant. We looked today at Daniel 3, and specifically at verses 17 and 18. It would seem that these three men, known to Nebuchadnezzar as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were being chastened by God. In a sense they were, but not for their own sin, but for the sin of more than 400 years of idolatry on behalf of the children of Israel. It was for that reason they were captives in a foreign land. These three men did the right thing, and they were willing to pay the consequences, which meant their life! I and a few others in the chapel at the time may not deserve to be here, but God has a purpose. Others are being chastened for their own sin, yet for most, much more so than they deserve. “JS,” said because of our incarceration things may be happening in our lives that we may not be able to see, but others, as long as we are faithful, can see. God, as Romans 8:28 says, that there is something greater He is doing we may not be able to see.
When we are being chastened, it is a rebuke of our faith. We fuss at God for not acting quickly or to reverse certain things, but it is a rebuke. I am to ask myself what I did or did not do to damage my faith so much to deserve to be in federal prison. It must become an opportunity for God to strengthen our faith. These men clearly told Nebuchadnezzar the God they serve is able to deliver them from the fiery furnace. They spoke this in faith, “And He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.” But even if God does not deliver them, they will still not capitulate or deny their faith, “But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
No matter whether God moves on our behalf or not, we must not lose faith. They recognized God’s sovereignty, that God has a purpose in all things. And thus they said, “But even if He does not.” BUT IF NOT must be our attitude. We can believe in faith, but the ultimate decision and purpose is God’s. In this case, it wasn’t these guys who needed to be transformed, it was Nebuchadnezzar. Although I am sure it impacted them for the rest of their lives!
Don’t ever give up on God, but remember, He has His purposes in all things. Others are watching us!