Not long ago I took two of my grandchildren out for ice cream (because that’s what grandparents do), and my grandson, Christopher, mentioned a LEGO set that he wanted. He chose a great way to approach the subject.
“Papa,” he said. “Are there any chores I could do so I can get a LEGO set?”
After we finished our ice cream, I said, “Well, let’s go over to the toy store.”
He found the set with the one character he especially wanted, and I pulled out the box. This was a fairly good-sized set, and when I looked at the price I was a little hesitant.
I asked the guy in charge if the character Christopher really wanted was in a smaller set. He found it – in a very small box. It included the character and a couple of extra things.
I held up both boxes and said, “OK, Christopher, you can get the small box, or you can get the big box. You choose.”
He mulled them over. Then he said, “I’ll get the smaller one.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Well, I don’t want you to have to spend too much money.”
You know what I did, don’t you? I bought him the big box. Why? Because he made the right choice.
In life we’re faced with thousands of choices every day. We can choose to do what God tells us to do in his Word, the Bible, or we can disregard it. But when we make the right choices (and they’re not always easy) and do what the Lord tells us to do, He will bless us.
God spoke through his servant Moses, saying, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
In other words, “Here’s what you should choose, by the way, in case you’re confused.” And when we don’t choose the right things, we’ll face the consequences.
In the Old Testament book of Daniel, we find a man who made the right choices again and again and again. We’re first introduced to Daniel as a teenager, along with his three buddies, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Then as we come to the end of the book, we find the same man in his old age as passionate in his faith and as strong in his stand as he was from the beginning of his life.
Daniel influenced so many people, including Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They refused to worship a giant, gold-covered image King Nebuchadnezzar had erected. Everyone complied except these three men.
As it turns out, they served in the king’s court as counselors of sorts, along with Daniel and others. Maybe the king liked these guys, because he thought he’d give them another chance to worship the image.
But they said:
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up” (Daniel 3:16–18).
In other words, “No. Not OK.”
They were standing on principle, and this royally ticked off the king. Outraged, he ordered them to be tied up and thrown into a giant furnace that was seven times hotter than normal. A little time passed, and when Nebuchadnezzar looked in, he saw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walking around like it was a Sunday stroll in the park.
Not only were the three of them ambling around, but there also was a fourth one with them. The king, most likely rubbing smoke out of his eyes, shouted:
“I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!” (verse 25).
I don’t know what Nebuchadnezzar thought, but he probably was seeing Jesus himself walking with his people through that fire.
There are several people I know who are going through fiery trials right now. Here’s what the Bible says:
“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12–13).
Sometimes God delivers us from the fiery trials in life, and other times he walks with us through those fiery trials. Either way, he’s got your back. You’re not alone. He will be with you.
Like his friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Daniel believed in a sovereign God. He was a fearless follower of God who spoke truth to Nebuchadnezzar, then to his grandson Belshazzar, and later to Darius, who conquered the kingdom of Babylon.
Daniel understood that dictators and kings who thought they were in control would come and go. But ultimately he knew the Lord was in control.
Maybe the key to Daniel’s successful life and ministry can be found in Daniel 1:8: “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.” This was in a relatively small area regarding the food from the king’s table. But it was that resolution, that commitment, that determination that carried Daniel through life.
The end of your life is decided by the beginning of it, the evening by the morning. Daniel made a principled stand in a relatively small area, and then he made a much more difficult stand in a much bigger area that followed.
Daniel had been taken from his homeland of Israel and became a captive in Babylon, but they could not change his core beliefs or convictions.
In the same way, when circumstances in your life aren’t making sense, go back to what you do understand: God is in control.
Greg Laurie is an American author and pastor who serves as the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, Harvest Church at Kumulani in Kapalua, Hawaii, and Harvest Orange County in Irvine, California. His newest book “Jesus Revolution: How God Transformed an Unlikely Generation and How He Can Do It Again Today” about the last great spiritual awakening in America, is available now! You can find it here: http://a.co/d/015o082