But If Not

But If Not
Daniel 3:16-18
Deacon George Miller
As I read the text for this devotional, my mind was immediately drawn back to two scenarios, (1) Looking back over my life and recounting the times, (too numerous to remember them all), that I wondered, ‘how did I survive that mess?’, or attempting to recall, “When or how did I get home?”, (Okay, I’m the only one) and (2) Back in the day, (not that long ago) when traditional devotional services were conducted, someone in the group would strike up, “If it had not been for the Lord on my side, tell me where would I be, where would I be, He kept my enemies away, he let the sun shine through a cloudy day, he rocked me in the cradle of his arms, when he knew that I was battered and torn”… You know the lyrics! (Slight play on the words of the title, but you get the point, right!).

While the song keenly represents the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, there is more than what immediately meets the eye, it also addresses the Faith, Commitment, and Perseverance of the three. These qualities are or should be present in Christians today. The question we ask ourselves is, given the same situation of the three Hebrew men, what would have been our position?

How many times have we recognized how God delivered us from situations or hardships that, if not for God on our side, the outcome would have been so different? How many times over our lives have we been able to recognize a potentially harmfully situation, and remarked, “I sure was lucky”? but hopefully as you have matured as a Christian, you now realize that it wasn’t luck but a blessing from God?

Follow me on these points:

Faith = Reliance, loyalty, or complete trust in God or someone else.
(v.17) If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it and he will rescue us from your hand, O King. In spite of facing imminent death, their faith never wavered. If God decided to not to do anything else for them, He had done enough. How strong would our faith be if placed in the same position as the three Jewish men?
 
Committed = To obligate or pledge oneself to something or someone.
(v.18) But even if he does not, we want you to know, O King, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. The easy choice of the three would have been to deny or break their commitment to God when faced with these tough times, but their choice represented a heavenly reward and not a life extension on earth. Matthew 16:26 says: What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? How often are we distracted by a short-term fix and lose out on a long-term gain? Life will always be about choices.
 
Perseverance = patient endurance of hardship. Continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulty or discouragement.
(v.27) So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched and there was no smell of fire on them. Galatians 6:9 says: Do not grow weary in well doing for in due season, you shall reap if you faint not! Suffice to say, the faith and commitment of the three was tested beyond measure, but they didn’t waiver in their allegiance to God and they were rewarded for their perseverance. Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, our destiny is in God’s hands, not in human hands.

Prayer: Dear God, thank you for all the times that you protected me from hurt, harm and danger. For always delivering me, that if you had not been on my side, my testimony would be much different. Thank you for granting me the opportunity to grow and mature in my faith, my commitment to you as your follower and infusing me with physical, mental, and spiritual energy to persevere as I run this challenging race of life. I always give you praise, honor and glory. Amen.
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