Definition: not deterred by danger or pain; brave
Who among us has not experienced fear? Do you know that fear is taught, that it’s a learned behavior? We unwittingly teach our children to fear by intonations in our voices. We can teach recognition or danger without teaching fear. When Jesus was preparing the disciples for what was to come, it wasn’t to make them fearful, but rather to keep them informed and aware. Somewhere along the line we have turned that concept into being fearful.
He would say I’m telling you this but do not be afraid. Knowledge is powerful when not mixed with doubt and fear. Instead of saying “don’t go out in the street or you’ll be killed by a car,” why not say, “before crossing the street look both ways”? Cars aren’t killers, careless or distracted drivers are.
The rain won’t give you a ‘death of cold’ if you're wearing a raincoat or using an umbrella. Awareness is safety. Fear is crippling. It keeps us from experiencing new things. See Morning Messages June 16, 2021. What makes us courageous? Is it adrenaline? It takes more than the rush to help us face trouble head on. It takes trusting in a God who has never failed to be faithful to His Word. It takes believing that if He’s done it before He’ll do it again. This is the subject of our message for today. Four Hebrew men, convinced of the invincibility and faithfulness of Jehovah defied threats against their lives displaying bold courage and glorifying God before the victory came. This was the generation after the crossing of the Red Sea and the Jordan river. History was on their side. Their God delivers!
“Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
Daniel 3:14-18 NKJV (read the entire chapter)
Where have we read those courageous words before?
“So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.””
Acts 4:18-20 NKJV
There’s coming a time when we will have to choose courage over political expediency and correctness. I have shared how pastors in Canada are prohibited from preaching biblical principles regarding homosexuality. The temptation to play it safe is not an option. If we’re timid it’s time to pray for bold courage. We will have to choose prison over compromise, death over life and persecution over comfort. When we remain silent it signifies that we have loved our lives here more than the life we’ve been promised over there. This world is not our home. It’s only a dress rehearsal, a temporary residence. These men knew it and displayed courage despite the consequences. We don’t always make it out of the fire or the lion's den. Some pay the ultimate price, but as Hebrews 11 says, “choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.”
Hebrews 11:25-26 NKJV
The Hebrew boys understood that life here was temporary. Whatever outcome the Lord wanted was fine with them. But they weren’t going to compromise. We Christians today need a lesson in courage. We’ve run away cowering in fear to Covid, let’s see how we respond to this “new” more deadly strain🤦♀️ I wonder how many will stop attending church, but pack the malls and grocery stores. Azariah, Mishael and Hananiah declared that they will not bow, they will not run, they will not compromise no matter the outcome of their decision. The true and living Jehovah, Yahweh, Elohim was worth dying for. They practiced what they preached. The definition at the beginning speaks volumes. Does that describe you? Me? And every person claiming Jesus Christ as Lord? Only time will tell.
But we have been told not to fear by the One who conquered and overcame all things. He didn’t teach us how to fear, He taught us how to be more than conquerors through Him. Do we dare say the God who we serve is able to deliver us, but if not we still won’t do whatever the compromise is? Pray for courage so you’ll be equipped and armed when the day of testing comes. These men didn’t rely on adrenaline, they trusted God. And He delivered. Courage is taught through the courageous. Fear is taught through the fearful. Doubt is taught through the doubtful. If we will get to know our God, we shall be strong and do exploits. Daniel 11:32 the enemy will favor those who compromise. He’ll give them a false sense of security. Compromising is safe, being courageous for Jesus brings opposition and trials. I’ll take it for what the writer of Hebrews calls. Better.
“But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”
Hebrews 11:16 NKJV
God wasn’t ashamed to show up for the Hebrew boys, for the apostles after them, and if we’re courageous He won’t be ashamed of us either. He will come and save us as He did for them. He told Joshua to be strong and courageous. Whenever we read those words today, He is reiterating His promises to us. Are you ready to be courageous and brave for Christ? Standing up for what you say you believe? Then pray. Ask for whatever is lacking, ask for boldness to stand fearlessly in this dark world. We have no idea how we will be called upon to defend our faith. But we know we never stand alone. The same God who defended Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah, Paul, Peter, John, Silas, Timothy, David, Moses and countless others, stands with those of us who will not bow, will not be silent, will not compromise for temporary comforts.
Father in the powerful Name of Jesus we ask you to give us bold courage in these last days to stand when others are bowing. To speak when others are silent and to love in the face of hate. Help us to remember that You’re the same yesterday, today and forever. That you’re no respecter of persons. You’ll always be with those who honor You. Amen
“At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!”
II Timothy 4:16-18 NKJV
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit
December 9, 2021