Today is an exciting day because tonight we begin Vacation Bible School (VBS). This year’s VBS theme is “Journey Off the Map”. This VBS stresses the importance of having Jesus Christ be your guide in this life. With this in mind, this morning we shall turn our attention to the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the book of Daniel. In this story we shall discuss 4 important truths from Daniel 1 & 3 that help us in “Our Difficult, Joyful Journey with Christ”.
- God will bring challenging circumstances. Our three friends encounter two challenging circumstances: 1) the command to eat the king’s food and 2) the command to worship the king’s gold statue. That these three were presented with challenging circumstances should not come to us as a surprise. Jesus said that we would have trouble in this world (John 16:33). We must understand that the circumstances are challenging because we long for peace in this world. God allows challenging circumstances to come so that we would recognize that true peace comes through Christ alone and not in this world.
- God will bring difficult decisions. Our three friends are forced to make two difficult decisions: 1) Do they eat the king’s food or God’s food? and 2) Do they bow before the king’s statue or do they bow to God alone? That these three were forced to make difficult decisions should not come to us as a surprise. We must understand that the decisions are difficult because we naturally recoil from any type of difficulty. God places us in difficult positions in order to break our selfish love for this world and remind us that when we decided to follow Christ no decision is difficult because we have already decided to obey Christ in all things.
- God will rescue the righteous. Our three friends chose to obey God rather than man. They were able to make this decision because they knew that God would rescue them. They obeyed God and were healthier than the others (Daniel 1). They obeyed God and were delivered from the fiery furnace (Daniel 3). This is proof that “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials” (2 Peter 2:9).
- God is more interested in holiness than happiness. Why does God bring challenging circumstances and why are we forced to make difficult decisions? It is precisely because we are involved in a great spiritual war and God is more interested in our holiness than our happiness. God is more interested in you being conformed into the image of Christ than your pursuit of physical pleasure. This does not mean we are miserable (yet holy), but that true joy comes only through holiness: “without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).
Are you struggling with your circumstances in life? Have you considered that God has allowed these situations and circumstances to come for your good? Are you currently in need of wisdom for difficult decisions? If so, please come to God in prayer and ask for wisdom.