Through the Fire

Text: Daniel 3:14-18

I would guess that most all of us have had the experience of God taking us places that we don’t want to go. As easily as we think of the place we’d most love to be in all the world, we can all think of places or situations where we certainly never want to find ourselves. For me it would be pretty much anything that involves large, pressing crowds. That could be a concert, a city, or just a cramped meeting space with only a dozen people. I like my space. I like having the ability and freedom to get out of the way rather than always being in someone else’s way – and them in mine!

There are other places I don’t want to go. I don’t want to go to an office where someone in a white coat comes in to tell me that either I or a family member has cancer or another terminal illness. I don’t want to go to a day where a police officer has to call my house. I never want to attend the funeral of one of my children. I never want to visit the day on the calendar when the money and the food and the gas all run out before the end of the month has come.

Daniel’s three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, found themselves being forced to go where they did not want to go.

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History Lessons

Text: Daniel 2:24-49

When we left Daniel, he, his friends, and all of his co-workers had been ordered executed by the king. As you remember, Nebuchadnezzar had had a dream that had frightened him very much. He asked his wise men – astrologers, sorcerers, diviners, and so forth – to tell him the dream’s interpretation. However, he also demanded that they tell him what his dream was. The text isn’t clear whether this was a test of his wise men’s abilities or if the king had been so scared by the dream that he really could not remember it. In either case, the wise men responded with desperate exasperation that no one had ever asked such a thing before, and no one but the gods of heaven could possibly answer such a request. Then they went on to basically admit that they did not have contact with those gods.

So Nebuchadnezzar rashly decided that they were all crooks that did not need to waste his time, so he called for his executioner and decreed that they should all be put to death – those in the room who failed to answer his requests and all of the rest of them in his kingdom.

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Text: Daniel 2:1-24

Have you ever been overcome with the sensation that life is just spinning completely out of control all around you? Job loss, divorce, death of a friend or family member, financial disaster, medical diagnoses, these and so many other things can all give us that feeling that everything that we thought we had no carefully orchestrated has just been an illusion. In true fact, we have never been in control of anything.

What do you do when everything in life goes awry? What do you do when your best laid plans are ripped to shreds, along with plans B, C, D, and E? What do you do when everything that you thought you knew seems to unravel, right before your very eyes?

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Living Strength

Text: Daniel 1

In the movie, The Matrix, the main character, Neo, is offered the choice between two pills. One is red, and the other is blue. If Neo chooses the blue pill, his world would continue uninterrupted, just as he had always known it. Even the memory of the offer of the pills would only be as a faint dream. On the other hand, if Neo takes the red pill, he will go down a proverbial rabbit trail from which there is no return. After taking the red pill, Neo wakes up one morning and asks the question, “There’s no way back, is there?”

What do you do when you find yourself in an utterly new world, completely different from all that was familiar and comfortable before? What do you do when everything around you has changed and morphed into something else entirely? How do you wake up and face each day knowing that there is no way back, and nothing to go back to even if there was a way?

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