Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Cost of our Beliefs

Daniel 3:11-12,14-18 - ...and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up.” 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.” 

Taking yet another break from the Proverbs! But not from wisdom...

I read an article or listened the other day to something that got me thinking. How willing would I be if put in a situation to stand my ground for Christ? Look at Peter. He denied Jesus the times when he said he never would, when he said he'd be willing to die or go into prison for Him. And then there's the other end of the story about the three young men above who would not bow down to any other god.

Lord, have mercy on us.

What if, and it could happen, the time came when we would be called out for speaking the truth when others didn't want to hear it...or it was against the law? Can't you see the push for tolerance today? There is denial going on right now. There is compromise even in the Church. There is a desire for all denominations to come together but not necessarily in unity and one belief but in the belief that there are many ways to believe. Sadly, Jesus is not always considered the only way, truth and life anymore. His Gospel message is becoming compromised so as to not offend. Hey, Jesus offended people...they even put Him to death for it. Even some who call themselves Christians say it is okay to change the truth of God's Word. Who's believing the lie?

Anyway, would we shrink back and remain silent if we were counted as those who believe Jesus is the only way to the Father? Or would we say what we know to be truth? The thought crossed my mind: what if I was told I'd gone too far and it was time to take back what I had said, renounce my belief that Jesus is the only way to the Father? That if I didn't others I know would be killed, tortured or imprisoned? That sent a chill.

More than once in the past few months this has been said or read: I might lose my wife (husband) for my beliefs in Christ. He can be quite the divider at times! Are we willing to allow that to happen to save our own soul from eternal hell? Only if the time presents itself will we know. I wrote earlier about Denying Christ. That's what we do if we say someone else's life is more important to us that His. Ouch.

Anyway, this sounds pretty ominous. We may think it even sounds far fetched. But the Bible talks about it. Many back in Christ's day were imprisoned or killed for speaking their beliefs. In other countries Christians are now imprisoned, murdered. Whose to say it won't be long before it will be commonplace in our country? We are not immune, nor are we a safe haven. Evil has spread everywhere. Freedoms are being removed little by little. Doesn't government want more control of everyone and everything? Isn't what's good being considered bad and bad good? (Well, I realize it's a matter of perspective.)

When will people take notice? Ah, but there's the in the days of Noah the people mocked and scoffed... What right did Noah have to tell them of God's plan? What right do we have today to say Jesus is the only way to life...the Door, the Gate, the Living Water, Bread of Life, the Savior, Redeemer...God in the flesh? What right do we have to share our beliefs to anyone? God says we must do this if we are Christ followers. And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." (Mark 16:15, Matthew 24:14) That creature might be you!

We could all be faced with this decision I described above...if we are Christ followers. If we are not following Christ, we're off the hook, but our eternal life is greatly at stake. This could be a very hard decision. If we want to receive eternal life we cannot deny Christ. No matter what, we must not back down in our beliefs even if parents, spouse, children or friends are dangled before you as the recipients of something you don't want to even consider because of your decision.

This will be a time when we have to put all our faith and trust in God for the outcome. Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abdnego above, they escaped the fiery furnace (the future hell). And if they would not have escaped, their claim was the same: they would not bow down to any other god. They knew and trusted their God.

Are we willing to do this? Perhaps it is time to consider this. Like I said, it may seem far fetched to think this could happen, but...  In order to have the wherewithal and strength just in case, we need to understand the importance of Christ in our lives now. He cannot be just some thought once in awhile, like on Sunday, or a name spoken out of disgust or anger. He must be worshipped daily. His words must be our daily bread, our heavenly manna. Can you say you do this, even a few times a week? Can you say you rely on Him right this moment? Can you say you have a close connection to Him if you don't?

Praise God if you don't! Wait, let me explain! He is willing to forgive you today if you want. Anyone can change, climb over the fence, break down the stubborn walls of defense or open their hearts for Christ. We need Him. If you think you can live apart from Him you believe the lie. 2Thessalonians 2:11 says God will send a powerful delusion so that many will believe the lie because they rejected the truth. Jesus is the truth. The lie comes from the devil. I'm thankful my church tells the truth.

It is never too late to listen to this truth and receive Christ. Your life is at stake whether you believe it or not. And I pray that if the day comes I have to deny any relationship here on earth over Christ, I will be strengthened by Him alone. Will you stand with me? There's strength in numbers.

And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"  ... whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. (Luke 18:7-8, Matthew 10:33)

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