Strange Faith

Some of my favorite biblical characters are the 4 young friends named Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Aariah.  At the age of 14 they were abducted from their homes in Judah and taken to Babylon to be fully indoctrinated by their conquerors.  Every attempt was made to rewire these young men and make them Babylonians.  They were even given new names in hopes of erasing all affiliation with their Hebrew religion and culture.  Their Hebrew names each reflected a focus on Jehovah.  For example, Daniel means “God is my judge”.  Their newly assigned names pointed to the false gods of the Babylonians.  Daniel and his friends would be called Belteshazzar, Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego.  Yes, these were Daniel (of the lions den) and his three amigos who where thrown into the fiery furnace.  Do you remember why these 4 were given such stiff punishments?  Because they refused to turn their backs on Jehovah and worship the king of Babylon or his gods.  Furious with their insubordination King Nebuchadnezzar gave Sadadrack, Meshack and Abednego a second chance to bow and worship the statue he had erected.  If they refused, they would be burned alive in the king’s furnace.  The three stood their ground with a response more poetic than any Hollywood screenwriter could dream up.  They replied:  ” King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” 
Daniel was sentenced to be fed to lions for disobeying a law that forbade him to pray to the Lord.  Instead of praying in secret to avoid detection, he knelt down at an open window on the second floor of his home, three times a day…for everyone to see…just as he had always done.  What gave these four young men such courage and faith in their God?  Throughout their young adult lives every attempt had been made to remove the God of Israel from their minds and hearts.  How did these young men trust God so completely?  I think the answer can be found in Daniel 6:10 which tells us that multiple times a day, Daniel stopped what he was doing to “…give thanks to God”. Despite the traumatic events that tore him from his family, he found reason to give thanks to God.  Despite the fact that he lived as a captive in a foreign land, he found reason to give thanks to God.  Despite the fact that people who were jealous of his success twisted the laws to have him put to death, Daniel found reason to give thanks to God.  And that constant focus on giving thanks for the things that God had done in the past made it easy to trust Him to come through in the future. 
The best way to bolster our faith is to remember the things He has done for us in the past and give thanks.  Everyday thank him for the ways he has come to your rescue.  And when you have trouble remembering them, think of the cross.  There is no greater moment that he demonstrated his undying love for you than he did at Calvary. 
Be Fearless! 
Pastor Jonathan