March 20th Devotion

Face the Fire with Courage
By Jessica Van Roekel

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, 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, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." - Daniel 3:16-18, ESV

Have you ever faced an ultimatum where you knew that to answer according to your convictions meant you would stand alone? We stand at a crossroads and know a decision lies before us. Rejection is probable. This type of disregard hurts, but so does compromising our convictions. We need uncommon courage to follow God in a culture that leaves God behind. Can we be known as people of courage?

God calls us to throw off the things that hinder us and prevent us from growing in him. It’s like tossing aside our cumbersome winter coat when warmer temperatures arrive. Spiritually, it means we need to examine our hearts with the help of the Holy Spirit and then end the thoughts and behavior patterns that he reveals to us. Growing in Christ means examining our belief system with a biblical worldview and then aligning our hearts with his. This takes remarkable courage.

The Bible has many examples to inspire us to stand strong in the face of difficulties. The three Hebrew boys from the book of Daniel are some of the bravest. They had a choice: approve of worship to an idol and bow before it or reject it and face the fiery furnace. They chose the furnace. In their act of turning away instead of bowing low to the golden image, the king rejected them and ordered them to be killed.

I’ve chosen the idol of people’s opinions. Their positive opinion made me soar, and their negative opinion led me to the depths. Rejection can be a fire in our lives. It burns relationships till all that’s left are white hot coals. It turns our self-perception to ash and consumes how we view God. Rejection can feel like a blazing fire engulfing the good in our hearts.

We want to stand in the fire without getting burned, but we forget who is with us. We take our eyes off Jesus and place it on someone or something else. Yet Proverbs 29:25 says the fear of man is a snare and those who trust in the Lord are kept safe. A snare traps its prey to be killed later. Rejection traps us in the ever-revolving door of validation from others. When we fail to make God first place in our life, we lose the courage to stand in the fire without being consumed.

But we can say, God, you have first place in my life no matter what happens. I'm going to trust you with everything I have. I'm going to chase after your opinion. I'm going to find out what your word says. Then we can stand with courage as the Hebrew boys did. We can face the fiery flames of rejection knowing he is with us. He carries us and walks with us through it all. We emerge on the other side to give God all the glory.

Intersecting Faith and Life:
When you face a situation where you feel like rejection burns the landscape of your life, remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. If you feel like you're in a fiery furnace, know this: God is with you. He carries you and walks next to you. God gives you the strength you need and asks you to fix your eyes on him. Look straight into his face, see his glory, make his opinion your number one pursuit, and you will gain the courage you need.
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