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June 16 – “Even If He Doesn’t…”

What’s your “breaking point?” You claim to be a follower of Christ, what would it take for you to deny Him as your Savior and Lord – even if it’s for a short time? What if circumstances got pretty bad, and nothing was going right, for a long period of time? Most true followers of Jesus would scoff at that idea. What if your life was on the line and the only way to save your life was to renounce Jesus? It might make sense to renounce Christ then. After all, how can you praise God when you’re dead? How can you lead others to Christ if you’ve been murdered?

The early Christian martyrs understood the question, and their answer was a resounding “Never!” The martyrs of today, often Christians in the Middle East echo that defiant faith. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego gave that same answer when asked to deny their faith by worshiping an idol. The king didn’t really want true worship, he just wanted people to know who was boss and follow his orders. He threatened them with death for refusing to obey his decree. They let the king know that God would save them. “But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:18)

That last statement is an amazing statement of faith. To paraphrase, they told the king, “God will save us, but even if He doesn’t, we’ll go to our deaths knowing that we’ve stayed faithful to Him.” You probably know the rest of the story: the enraged king fired up the furnace seven times hotter than normal; the soldiers commissioned to throw the three faithful men into the furnace died from the heat as they approached it; and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked around in the furnace with God without even getting a suntan. King Nebuchadnezzar changed his tune and after getting the men out of the furnace, proclaimed protection for all who followed their God. How easy it would have been to avoid the issues and the furnace by making a small concession to their faith: “God, we don’t really mean it, so forgive us when we bow down to the idol. Then we can live to praise your name.”

Most of our decisions about maintaining our faith aren’t life or death. It’s easy to look at this story and admire the courage of Daniel’s three friends knowing that we’d be willing to die for our faith. Then, we run into those little, everyday situations where we have a chance to show people about our love for God – and shrink back from proclaiming our faith. We join in the office gossip; we fail to talk about our love of God when given a chance; or we willingly participate in things we know are wrong, but do so believing that it will help other people come to Christ in the future because they knew a Christian that was a good sport about things. It’s possible that staying faithful to God at all times may cost us friends, business, jobs, or ultimately our life. Our relationship with God is more important than any of those things. In the long run, our faithfulness will draw more people to Him and give us more joy than any compromise will ever do.

Lord, I’ll have many decisions to make today. Some of them will be choices between faith or compromise. Give me the strength to stay faithful no matter what the earthly consequences may be..


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