When I see what’s happening in the world today and in our own country for that matter, I wonder if I am living in a hostile land? Christians are being persecuted around the globe. Our religious freedom in the US is under attack. The influences of our current culture and political climate are quickly eroding the world that we pray about in the Lord’s prayer: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The big question is how are you being conformed by our culture—by the world. We are warned in Romans 12:2 of this very thing: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Is your treasure in the things of the world or do you work for your heavenly reward? Matthew 6:19-21 speaks to this: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
This is a big challenge but let’s draw strength and courage from four young Jewish boys that were in captivity. We pick up the story in the book of Daniel in Chapter one where King Nebuchadnezzar has taken Jerusalem and all its people. The four young men are Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. You may know the last three by their Babylonian names of Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego.
These young men were certainly in a foreign and hostile land and slaves to make it worse. They certainly had every reason to conform to the world, who would blame them. But these young men where the epitome of courage and faith!
Their first test was when they were offered food from the King’s table but refused it because it would dishonor their God. The second time they were thrown into the fiery furnace but they did not waver. Here’s part of the passage: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 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 3:16-18
Wow, talk about courage and conviction! They would not dishonor God even if it meant being put to death. I can only pray that when faced with this choice I will choose to serve God, rather than please man.
The question for all of us, whether it be in our workplace, our community or our government, is “Will we stand firm on God’s laws and principles or simply conform to the world’s culture?” I leave you with these verses from John 2:15-16: Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.
We certainly do live in a hostile land, but with faith and courage we can stand firm in our faith. Gain courage from these young men.
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