Commitment in the Face of Compromise
Thank you Brian Well today's sermon is about commitment and so for those of you who struggle with commitment.
Now is a good time to leave no I'm just kidding you're committed to being here right now but as I've been studying the sermon on Daniel Chapter three and you can open there right now if you'd like and I've been looking at this in just being struck by the level of commitment that these three young men had it made me think to myself What is it that causes us to be tempted to break our commitments because all of us make commitments whether we we intentionally make a commitment or we're just loosely committed to something and we're always tempted throughout our entire lives to break our commitments and so I'm going to give you two main reasons why we break our commitments and I'm not a psychologist and a psychologist could probably come up here and explain in detail all the different nuances of why people break their commitments but I'm going to lump them into two main categories OK People will break their commitment because of the possibility of reward or the possibility of pain those are the two main reasons I think you can kind of classify everything in those two categories so if a person is going to compromise their beliefs or their commitments or whatever it is it's usually for one of those two reasons to avoid pain or to experience some temporary reward let me give you a couple examples I know it's not New Year's and we're already almost to the month of March and people probably given up on those but if there's one universal commitment that a lot of people make it is something like wanting to eat healthier exercise you know something like that ever has anyone here ever made a commitment to doing those things so you make that commitment and you say I'm going to do it right this year and I'm going to eat right I'm going to exercise. Then you go to the break room at work or to the Fellowship room on church on Sundays and and then there's those delicious little cookies sitting there. Do you have power to resist. Well it depends on how committed you are to your commitment somebody might say oh it's just one I'll just take a bite Oh I like this is my favorite dessert Another example might be let's say you're invited over to someone's house for dinner and similar situation you said all right no sugar for the month of of whatever it is and the person who invited you over they're going to scoop onto your plate the most delicious and decadent dessert of your entire life. Do you say no I'm committed to not eating sugar you know say no to the reward or do you break your commitment because you're afraid of the wrath that you will endure from your host. So you say yes grandma go ahead you put it on my plate I will eat that because you don't want to be in grandma's dog house or here is that here's another one I think that everyone is going to have to face they face usually every year. Taxes. Tax time I would hope that everyone here is committed to being honest right now going to raise your hands because all those we know we're supposed to be honest Jesus give to Caesar what is Caesar's and we know responsive to pay taxes but what if you come across a situation where in your mind you've kind of calculated hey this is how much I'm either going to get back as a refund or this is how much I'm supposed to spend and you realize you have a surplus this year and so in your heart in your mind you decide this is how I'm going to spend my refund or the money that I don't have to pay on taxes and then lo and behold you discover that you miscalculated. And the refund is going to be a lot less or you're going to pay a lot more in taxes unless you change a couple numbers over here.
What do you do.
In that situation there's kind of two reasons why you would break your commitment the possibility of reward you get the thing that you were wanting to buy your toy or vacation or to avoid the pain of riding that shack and so all throughout our lives we are faced with with numerous occasions numerous reasons where we are tempted to compromise on our commitments and so I think it's very rare to find a person who is uncompromising when it comes to their commitments that's very rare you know here in Phoenix we adopted a mission statement a couple years ago I think most churches should should exist for the exact same reason and just the way that they express their mission statement might be different from church to church but we chose to include one very specific word in our mission statement Our mission statement is developing committed followers of Jesus Christ of the teaching and encouragement of God's word there's a lot of people in the world who say I'm a follower of Christ I believe in his death and his resurrection I believe that will save me but they're not committed followers of Jesus Christ and so what I hope will happen today is that we read from Daniel chapter three that we will be encouraged by the commitment that we see in hand and I ask Michelle and Azariah so over your Bibles if you're not there already to Daniel Chapter three.
And before you begin reading I just want to remind you of what we read in Daniel Chapter one chapter one he never could measure went to Israel and they took the noble use and they decided to make them part of Babylon culture and so we have Daniel hen and I am Michel and I was raw and they refused to eat the king's food and so this was a compromise that they had to decide if they were going to do or not and so the king said You are part of my country you're going to be part of my servants and I want you to eat my royal food and so Daniel and I Michel and I had to decide if they would be. Committed to God and the dietary laws that he gave to them or would they take the reward instead and the reward would be maybe the good food that they were going to receive and even the reward of being part of Babylonian culture and society and the possibility of of advancement in King Nebuchadnezzar years of rain and they stayed committed in the face of reward now here we come to Daniel Chapter three and we see them being committed an uncompromising in their commitment in the face of pain All right let's read Daniel Chapter Three beginning in verse one. It says King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold whose height was sixty cubits and its breath six Cuba it's and he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon Now for those of you were who were here last week when we looked at the dream that King Nebuchadnezzar had God had a dream a dream that there was a big statue of gold and Daniel was able to interpret that and so here we come to chapter three you think the King Nebuchadnezzar built a statue of gold in Chapter two he dreamt of a big statue of gold so where did he get this idea from from these now this kind of a stretch to understand what King never can as was doing but last week we realized that king the king had a dream and Daniel prayed in God revealed to him not only what the dream was but also the interpretation of that dream and the lesson that you and I can learn from Daniel Chapter two is ultimately the gods in charge of human history and we don't have to worry about if we're affecting it in a positive or negative way God is in control and ultimately we're including God's plan now the difference in time between Daniel Chapter two and Daniel Chapter three we have no idea so this could be one year later it could be ten years later it could be twenty years later but at some point in time King Nebuchadnezzar had the idea. Of building this giant statue and the cube it's just so you know this is ninety feet high and nine feet wide and it's very unlikely that it was solid gold was probably made from wood and then it was overlaid with gold that's probably more realistic of what happened and as we read this you have to ask the question why did King Nebuchadnezzar do this what was his rationale and what I'm going to do is I'm going to suggest to you maybe part of Connecticut has or is motivation for doing this all right and one of the one of the reasons why I think King Nebuchadnezzar may have done this is for some nationalistic perspective all right he never can answer is the ruler of the Babylonian Empire and the dream told him that his empire was going to be the most prominent and special on the statue we don't know what was happening in Babylon at this time. Maybe they were preparing for war maybe they were experiencing problems with surrounding nations but I suspect he never can has or had this idea and I could be wrong on this but you can kind of read this into the story he never can as Or was looking for a way to bring the nation together to get everybody loyal to the Empire to get them to to bow down in allegiance to him and to have loyalty among the subjects and so this is his idea verse two.
Thinking never can as are sent sent together sent to gather the satraps the prefects in the governor's the councillors the treasures the justices the magistrates and all the officials of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar it set up. Then the satraps the prefects in the governors the councillors the Treasurer's the justices the magistrates and all the officials of the provinces gathered for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up and they stood before the image that never can as your head set up now one thing I want you to notice is. Who is exactly here who is here in this in this situation where they're about to bow down before the image it's the government employees.
The leaders the governmental employees the the Empire employees are there and understand part of Babylon's I guess their theory of warfare was to go into other nations take the brightest in the best from those nations bring them back to Babylon and assimilate them into their culture and so you have all these people and some of them are from other nations and yet they have a position in the government of Babylon and so to have all of those people come together and say let's all be loyal and faithful to King Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon so that's what King Nebuchadnezzar is trying to do here verse four. And the Herald proclaimed aloud. You are commanded zero people Zz nations and languages that when you hear the sound of the horn the pipe liar try gone hard bagpipe in every kind of music you are to fall down and worship the golden image the King Nebuchadnezzar it set up and whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace therefore as soon as all the peoples heard the sound of the horn the pipe liar trying on harp bagpipe and every kind of music and all the peoples nations and languages fell down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar headset mic.
So what's with all this music. Why did he have all this music being played you look at all these instruments and you just try to imagine what that must have sounded like it wasn't just a bunch of noises I suspect not in fact I think King Nebuchadnezzar and those people know exactly the same thing that we know and that is this music in the right context for the right reasons can really inspire and motivate us and bring our emotions to the surface and so part of me wonders. Is the music that is being played is this some kind of an equivalent to some national anthem for Babylon is he trying to get people to say yes I am loyal to my king I am loyal to my country and they hear the music being played and they bow down because their face full to their king and their face full to their country you know is there anyone here in this room has ever heard a song and you were moved emotionally maybe even this morning right or how about if you've heard any kind of a nationalistic song and you were moved and you're love for your country kind of came to the surface you know the time in my life when I felt the most moved when I heard a song was right after nine eleven and I think most everyone in this room was alive you know in the second service we're going to a lot of the younger kids I probably don't remember this but I remember after September eleventh I have never seen our country so unified in my lifetime right now who is really divided and maybe not a statue that we're going to bow down to but maybe the having an event that will bring us closer together might be good for our country I don't know what I'm not hoping something will happen but I you know I look at can never get her in what is he doing and the most I have ever been emotionally moved by a song was right after September eleventh in fact I want to show you a video clip of that exact moment so bring it up don't play it yet but I'm going to give you the context of this video clip some of you here in Arizona might really remember this very well this was October thirtieth two thousand and one during the World Series the Yankees were playing the Arizona Diamondbacks and who won that World Series Oh that's right the game he's lost that's the most important thing the Yankees lost and this was the game three in New York forty nine days after the attack and this is I think is the name is Daniel Rodriguez he's a police officer and in the seventh inning stretch he stood up and. Tired and before the entire Yankee Stadium and the nation he saying.
God Bless America I want you to listen to this and if you are not moved by this than you're asleep go ahead.
Ladies and gentleman and.
Will you please rise.
And director attention to the microphone behind home plate.
And welcome home who represent in all of New York City I'm agencies services New York City police officer John you know I want to get you.
Caught bless. America.
Was stuck on the sun.
And the guy.
On the. Earth the. Earth.
Home us the.
Door of oh I.
Come out her was my goal so we. Don't Owe no.
Us harm her was. No harm.
Does that move anyone here you know that was so many years ago I remember watching that live and just you know you get caught up and you get choked up and I even get a little goosebumps even today watching that you know you look what is King Nebuchadnezzar doing I suspect and I could be wrong but maybe he's trying to do something similar to that he's trying to get everybody to be loyal and faithful and as a country bring people together there's only one problem though he said bow down and worship the golden statue.
Jacki Schechner Bendigo said. I can't do that.
I can't do that maybe in this scene there were a lot of good things taking place for the nation about a lawn but they were asked to do something that God says do not worship any other god but me and so Daniel and his three friends. Said no they had made the commitment to be loyal to and serve only the One True God verse eight.
It says Therefore at that time certain Cal DNS came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. These are called tattletales. And here's the irony of the cal DNS back in Dana Chapter two there were a group of people whom King Nebuchadnezzar was going to kill all of them the magicians and the astrologers.
Because the ends were those people and so how ironic is it that the people that were saved by Daniel's interpretation of the dream are the ones that are tattle tailing on the other Jews what have you done for me lately here's there's a little irony in that verse nine they declared to Kingdom a can as Oking live forever you a king have made your decree that every man who hears the. Sound of the hornpipe liar tried on her big pipe in every kind of music shall fall down and worship the golden image and whoever does not fall down to worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace there are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon Shadrach Meshach and Abednego these men all King pay no attention to you they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up the Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach Meshach and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the King Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them is it true or Shadrach Meshach and Abednego that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the hornpipe tired liar trying on hard bagpipe in every kind of music to fall down and worship the image that I have made well and good but if you do not worship you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace and who is the God who will deliver you out of my hands.
This is where a strength of a person's face and commitment is revealed. You know people break their commitments for much less.
Of all the Israelites that were brought from Israel into Babylon it doesn't say any of them remain standing and I'm sure many of them probably in their own minds and we do this too we kind of trick ourselves with our own ideas or say well I'll go ahead know about down but God will know in my heart that I'm not really I'm not really worshipping or I'm just going to tie my sandal at that time because I don't want to be left standing and so we kind of come up with all these ideas Well I'm not really going to do a God really knows where my heart is but these three young men knew that their relationship with God and their testimony before all the people that was at stake and so they held firm to their commitment no matter what the. Consequences were for sixteen. So Shadrach Meshach and Abednego answered and said to the king. Own have a king as are we have no need to answer you in this matter if this be so our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace and he will deliver us out of your hand OK. But if not. Be unknown to you O'Kane that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up I think this is probably the most important part of this entire story they said we know God can save us. But even if he doesn't. We will remain committed to him.
Then never again has or was filled with fury and the expression of his face was changing and shattered me second Bendigo and the order the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated and he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrack me shakin to Bendigo and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace and just you know this burning fiery furnace of probably a smelting furnace where they would boil down metals and make it into something that they could use and so this was not something probably built just for this purpose but if it was something that they would be using first twenty one then these men were bound in their cloaks their tunics their hats and their other garments and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace because the king's order was so urgent and the furnace overheated the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach Meshach and Abednego and these three men shattered me shut in a Bendigo fell down into the burning fiery furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and arose in a haste he declared to us counsellors did we not cast Sri men down into the fire they answered and said to the king true Oking and he answered and said But I see four men unbound. Walking in the midst of the fire and they are not hurt and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.
This is the marital that we all know in love part of Daniel Chapter three this is most likely one of the handful of places in the Old Testament where we are witnessing a Chrystopher me and this is where Jesus Christ before he took on human flesh came and made an appearance in the Old Testament you know we look forward to the day when we will see Jesus Christ forever but these three brave young men were able to see Christ even before that and that is to their honor you know there's a passage in Isaiah all read this for you Isaiah forty three where Isaiah speaking to the nation of Israel especially those in exile and saying to them remember Israel God is your god and he has chosen you and he will be faithful to you even in your exile and Isaiah forty three it says but now says the Lord He who created us Jacob he who formed you Israel fear not for I have read you I have called you by name you are mine when you pass through the waters I will be with you and through the rivers they shall not overwhelm you and when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned and the flame shall not consume you for I am the LORD your God the Holy One of his REAL your savior so God is even saying to the Israelites in captivity Fear not I am committed to you you are protected in my hands verse twenty six the never can as you came near to the door of the burning fire furnace he declared shattering the second the Bendigo servants of the most high God come out and come here then shatter me shakin to Bendigo came out of the fire and the satraps the prefects the governors and the king's councillors gathered together and saw that the fire. Had not had any power over their bodies of those men they hair of their heads was not singed their cloaks were not harmed and no smell of fire had come upon them never can as are answered and said Blessed to be the God of Shadrach Meshach and Abednego who were sent his angel and delivered his servants who trusted in him and set aside the king's command and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God Therefore I make a decree any people nation or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrack me Shekhina Bendigo shall be torn limb from limb and their houses laid in ruins for there is no other God who is able to rescue in this way than the king promoted Shadrack me shakin the Bendigo in the province of Babylon you know this is one of those stories that we like to tell little kids and they get this image in their mind of a fiery furnace and and Jesus is in there and it's a it's exciting and in the past whenever I've read the chapter three I've always like that part the best but maybe as I go through life I realize the one part of this story that all of us should be able to relate to is not the potential of being cast into a fiery furnace it's all those moments all throughout our life where we are tempted to compromise our commitment and I'm really inspired and encouraged by the faith that these three men had to say we will not compromise. Even if it costs us our life well I have some good news for all of you you're probably never going to face a situation like this in your lifetime and I'm specifically meaning that you're going to be thrown into a fiery furnace However I think it's pretty clear that the world is changing around us in America is definitely changing and I think people's face will be tested like it's never been before in fact I would hate to even imagine that this would have been any of us but with these terrorist attacks these hate crimes there might come a day when you or someone you know. Will have a gun pointed towards their head and they'll be they'll be told if you deny Jesus Christ you will live if you claim as your Lord and Savior you will die that happened in one of the school shootings that these things happen all around the world but if that were to happen to you. What would you do in that moment I honestly hope this will never happen to anyone in this room but what would you do you know a person who can stand firm in the most crucial moments has been standing firm in the last crucial moments their entire life and I think that's what took place with Daniel and his three friends what I want to do is I want to give you two forms of encouragement this morning two things that we can take away from this passage of Scripture two reasons why we can look at this story and it can help us to be committed so why can we stay committed the first reason is because simply God is committed to us we can remain committed to God because God is committed to us they said to King Nebuchadnezzar they God could save them but even if he did not in this life they would not compromise and the reason is they knew because God some day would reward them for their face fullness and that God is committed to them you know for these three young men how many stories must have gone through their mind as they said they made their decision before King Nebuchadnezzar they probably thought of all the numerous times that God had delivered the nation of Israel and individuals maybe the thought of the Exodus how God had brought up the Israelites out of pharaohs hand and they probably thought about all the different times maybe even in their own life that they stayed committed to God and God delivered them you know this is Daniel Chapter two this is only the second time we know that they stayed committed but how many other times living in battle and you think they had to keep their commitments to God probably hundreds if not thousands of times up to this point in time they could stay committed to God because they had seen their. Their entire life the god was first committed to them. There's a passage in first US alone Ians I want to read you I want you to turn there we're done here and Daniel so turned over to first US alone means and this is a passage you should have underlined in your Bible if it's not already.
First US alone aeons five.
This is one of those passages that are that are wonderful to read when your life seems a little hectic.
And the waves of uncertainty are coming in your life and things are rocky first US alone eons five.
Verses twenty three and twenty four.
Now me the God of peace himself saying defy you completely and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ this is God's work in your life verse twenty four says he who calls you is faithful he will surely do it.
The work in your life of God saving you and being able to present you before Jesus Christ that is coming sanctified and spotless this is something that you and I have to do on our own this is God's work and this tells us that God is faithful to us he's committed to us he is faithful in his faithfulness to you should inspire us to be faithful to him and another form of encouragement that we see in the story is only a two points I could probably get out of a lot more but another form of encouragement is this that there is a resurrection.
Shadrack me second to Bendigo knew that if they died the best is yet to come you know this life can be so wonderful I hope everyone here really enjoys your life and there's things that you can look forward to but nothing in the slightest can call it compare to a goddess promise force I want to look at one last passage nuts and Hebrews eleven. So you go over to here a Chapter eleven I'm sure in Steve's Sunday school class eventually has a humorous Chapter eleven you might forget this passage by then. But in Hebrews Chapter eleven this is kind of known as you know we have a Hall of Fame but this is this is known as are called the Hall of face and in this passage we are reminded of many different people throughout the Bible who remained faithful and loyal to God and explains why they were faithful to God let's start reading Hebrews eleven thirteen.
Talking about all these faithful people it says he was eleven thirteen. These all died in face not having received the things promised but having seen them in greeting they greeted them from afar and having acknowledged that they were strangers in exiles on the earth for people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland if they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out they would have an opportunity to return but as it is they desire a better country that is a heavenly one therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God for He has prepared for them a city now skip down to verse thirty two and here is where the author of Hebrews whoever it is starts talking about different people throughout their life the martyrs the people who have died for their faith and says this verse thirty two and what more shall I say for time would fail me to tell of Gideon Beric Samson Jeff than David and Samuel and the prophets no lesson in verse thirty three it says who through face conquered kingdoms in force and justice obtained promises stopped in the mouths of lions were going to read about that pretty soon in Daniel thirty four quenched the power of fire escape the edge of the sword or made strong out of weaknesses became mighty in war put foreign armies to flight women receive back their dead by resurrection some were tortured refusing to accept release Why is that so that they might really rise. Again to a better life others suffered mocking and flogging and even chains and imprisonment they were stoned they were sawn into they were killed with the sword they went about in skins of sheep and goats destitute afflicted mistreated of whom the world was not worthy wandering about in deserts and mountains and in dens and caves of the earth and all these though commended through their fates did not receive what was promised since God probably provided something better for us that apart from us they should not be made perfect and so these three said even if he doesn't save us in this life we will not bow down and the reason that they could see that is because they had faith that this life is not all there is that there is a resurrection and they will have life after death you know I love this story I love all the the great stories like this in the Old Testament and I hope that you're encouraged by this story because I am that you read a story like this in and you think yourself Boy I hope my my faith is tested this week so I can stand firm right we want something like this to happen to us but you know it's exciting but if that's what it took for us to experience God and to know him in a way that we otherwise never could would you embrace being in a situation like this that's kind of a scary question. Have you ever thought to yourself and I think a lot of people say this they think this to themselves a lot of Christians think this Have you ever thought to yourself you know why doesn't my faith seem real. You know we want to experience with God we want to know that God is near us and we say why doesn't my faith seem real well I'm going to make a statement and it's not a blanket statement for all people of all time but I believe one of the reasons why people who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ they don't sense that their faces real one of the reasons could be because they haven't committed themselves to anything. There is no commitment in their life.
And if someone isn't committed to anything as soon as the wind starts to blow too strong they'll compromise.
If someone were to follow you around for the next month and watch everything that you do would there be evidence that you are committed to following Jesus Christ if they watched all your conversations all the things that you did all the way that you handle your money in your finances would there be any evidence that you are committed to Jesus Christ.
Hopefully this morning we see that commitment counts and it counts and it matters because God is first committed to us and because there is life after this one and so I hope all of us will be able to say that in the face of temporary gain temporary reward or even temporary pain that we can be like these three brave men who refused to compromise their commitment to God it's closing prayer.
Dear Lord I thank you for this passage that we read today it's a story that is quite remarkable and I realize that most of us in our lifetime we will never be forced to compromise or commit chewing in quite a dramatic way but we face so many smaller things and maybe because they're smaller we think the reins inconsequential but Lord this morning as we're so we're sitting here before you and we're starting your wording we're being encouraged and inspired by and I just pray for anyone here who is facing a situation in their life whether it's big or small where they are are being tempted to compromise their commitment to you and I pray that they will be encouraged that all of us will be encouraging inspired by this this outstanding show of commitment by hand and I add Michelle and has arrived that they were able to and willing to give up their life rather than turn their back on you. Lord I know and I believe with all my heart that we experience our salvation. We experience our faith the most when we fulfill our commitments to you when we remain loyal and faithful and so Lord I pray that as we gather together as we read your word and we read stories like this that we will truly be inspired to be committed to you we pray that you will give us the strength to do just that we present Christ name Amen. And I mean the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all amen.