Saturday, October 23, 2010

I’m Not Giving Out, Not Giving In, and Not Giving Up

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace with the Son of God, image courtesy of Lavista Church of Christ
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king,O 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 save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 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.’ ”1

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.2

I was just sharing with those closest to me, how often I’ve failed; any of you who’ve said the same words know what I’m talking about. I use to despise failure. I viewed it as a reflection of who I was, not an inability to accomplish something. I use to think it would be better to never fail; just have a string of successes. This was because I wanted others to look favorably upon me.

I never looked at failure as success.

I never recognized the purpose of being tested. Because of this, I never considered testing a good thing.

Oh but things are different now baby! I’m a new creation in Christ:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!3

I’m in agreement with God because I take joy now when I’m tried. I consider it an opportunity not only for spiritual growth and development, but it’s also an opportunity for God to prove Himself to me. When I say, “It’s an opportunity for God to prove Himself to me”, I really mean through me. I believe God provides me with opportunities to consider it an occasion to rejoice that God and I will partner, demonstrating, He is God of my life. I realize now that this occurs even when I fail, He is still God.

Most of us love to hear about success. Failure? Not so much. I’ve read this passage in Daniel numerous times (as I’m sure many others have too), but I’ve learned something which has evaded me until now.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego didn’t care about the outcome of their decision; they were fully committed to their decision.

I don’t mean to say they didn’t want God to save them from the fiery death they were threatened with; yes, they wanted to be spared that kind of death. But they understood that the decision to save them was in God’s hands, not their own. They yielded their decision-making to God.

They could have given out to the threat of death. They could have given in to king Nebuchadnezzar. They could have given up on God.

But they didn’t!

They determined that no matter what happened, they would trust in God for the outcome. We know what happens next, king Nebuchadnezzar becomes furious with their answer. He orders the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than normal, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were tied up and thrown into the blazing furnace. The furnace was so hot that the flames from the fire killed the soldiers who were ordered to throw them in.

I would imagine that the king felt pretty confident in himself, believing that these three had failed to make the right decision. That’s how many look at you when things go bad.

They say,You’re a failure!

There are those who never let you forget that you’re a failure; they like to remind you just in case you’ve forgotten. They remember you back when…

Nobody had ever stood up to this king before, and lived. He had that kind of power; he used his power of intimidation. But these men weren’t like all the Yes men the king was accustomed to standing before him. These men submitted to a higher authority than an earthly king.

They were obedient to God.

I have learned such strength of conviction from these three men. To be able to say, I know God can save me from this terrible ordeal but even if He doesn’t save me from this, I’m ready to go through it, that He, Almighty God may be exalted and praised!

This wasn’t just someone talking the talk, these men walked the talk.

So I know that God is no respecter of persons and when my opportunity comes, and it will surely come, I’m ready to walk the talk. I’m not being cavalier about this because trials aren’t a game. I know I can fail in my trial but God never fails. I’m trusting God.

I’m reminded of the actor in the Allstate insurance commercials. His booming voice evokes assurance, confidence and security when he says, “You’re in good hands with Allstate.

But the God we worship doesn’t emulate assurance, confidence and security.

He is my assurance.

He is my confidence.

He is my security.

I’m going to shout for joy when I’m tried because my trials produce endurance in me, and that’s a good thing. It means that in time, my failures will become fewer and fewer.

It means, I’m not giving out to my trial.

It means, I’m not giving in to fear.

It means, I’m not giving up on God.

I’ll trust Him like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

I’ll trust Him like Abraham when God told him to offer up his son on Mount Moriah, the place where Abraham would worship Jehovah Jireh.

I’ll trust Him like David standing before Goliath with a confidence that trusted in Immanuel, David knew, God is with me.

Can you trust God?

Don’t give out, don’t give in, and don’t give up on God.

He hasn’t given up on you.

Jesus,

Thank you for being the King of kings and Lord of lords. You are Jehovah Jireh, my provider. You are Immanuel, God with us. You've promised to never leave me or forsake me; I believe that Lord. When I face my trials, I will rejoice because I know you want to produce endurance in me. You want me to be confident that in You, I can go all the way. Like the song says, "No matter what tomorrow brings, I'm going all the way!" Thank You Jesus for giving me confidence in You. You conquered sin, death, hell, the grave and everything else. Every knee must bow to You the risen Saviour and Lord. I trust You Lord, You are my strength and shield. Amen.


Footnotes:
  1. Daniel 3:16-18, NIV
  2. James 1:2-3, NASB
  3. 2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV
References:
  1. The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
  2. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6


22 comments:

Sharon Kirby said...

Welcome back, my friend. I have missed your thoughts!! This was such a great post, full of words that convicted me, challenged me, and inspired me! I loved your "not giving out, not giving in, not giving up." I have often said, "Never give up. Never give in." But I like how you finished the thought:

No, I won't GIVE OUT to any trial or hardship or struggle.
No, I won't GIVE IN to fear.
No, I won't GIVE UP on God.

You asked, Can you trust God? In that He is absolutely trustworthy - my answer is a resounding YES! We can trust Him because He deserves our trust - He is utterly faithful. But I also read that sentence as a personal challenge - Can you trust God, Sharon? Can you just do it? Just trust Him - totally? I am praying every day for a greater measure of faith.

I am reminded of this from Job:

"Thou He slay me, yet will I trust in Him."

GOD BLESS!

P.S. OK, just a little humorous side-note. When I was a little girl, I used to call these guys, "Shadrach, Meshach, and To Bed We Go." :)

Wanda said...

MTJ, I must admit my first reaction to trials is not one of joy but I do recognize that it produces something very needful in my life. Funny the subject of failures has come of conversation two weekends in a row for me. Surprisingly my little niece has come up with the saying that she's a failure. Already the enemy is trying to plant these seeds into her head. You've given me a fresh perspective on Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Sometimes I place to much restorability on myself for the outcome of my decisions but He's been teaching (or reassuring) me that He's God enough to handle my failure.

JT said...

This post gives me something to think about. May God Bless You.

THE OLD GEEZER said...

Our failures are God's opportunity to show us how dependent we really are on Him. Success usually brings pride into ones life and there are few who can handle it with humility.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.

1 Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

Merana Leigh said...

Great post, my friend! Admittedly, these young men had far more faith than I've given the Lord. But then again...I recall several times in my life, down upon my knees sobbing, saying "well, I can't see how this will possibly turn out for my good, but I leave it with you & will deal with the outcome"...to which He blessed me richly. I suppose sometimes "doubt" can be our fiery furnace???? I especially love when you say "I viewed it as a reflection of who I was, not an inability to accomplish something." Isn't that the truth? Thank you for such an inspirational post (as always). And I've learned that my "failures" were mere stepping stones to the future success God has in store for me! We have to step on something in order to get higher up. Praise you Jesus! And Wanda, let your niece know, that just because she fails, as we ALL do, SHE is not the failure! She is a gift to this world whom God loves. I will be praying for her. And Sharon, I'm LOL'ing all over the place, girl!

Ruth said...

Hi MTJ, this is very inspiring... its hard to yield the decision making part to God.. at most of the times... not giving out...not giving in...not giving up is what i am learning to do!!

Saleslady371 said...

This is very inspiring. I'm in the middle of a trial and needed this teaching to spur me on!

MTJ said...

Sharon: It's good to be back home. There is no comfort like one's home. I can relate to Goldilocks (not the hair or gender mind you), my own bed is jussssst right!

You're right Sharon, I felt a personal challenge with the question, "Can you trust God?" I want to have the kind of spiritual endurance that takes me through whatever trial I face.

"Shadrach, Meshach, and To Bed We Go"....That is so Sharon! I love that you shared that with me.

Wanda: Not being a woman, I don't know the true depth of pain many women experience in the area of self-image, confidence and identification. I do believe doubts begin early in the life of many young girls. I was thinking today how so many girls start out coffessing they are a princess, only to wind up seeing themself as ugly, unacceptable, unlovable, worthless, and so many other words that tear at the fabric of their heart and life. We must replace these negative images and messages with images and words of truth and value. All daughters, wives and mothers need to be told they are intelligent, loved, talented and valued. I believe God has a purpose for each of us, and that includes women and girls too.

John: I would welcome the opportunity to read your thoughts on this topic; whenever you want to share them, please do.

Ron: Yes! This is so true my brother. I realize that what I've shared in this post are just words. God will reveal to me what is already known by him. The true measure of what I say must experience pressure to extrude my true character and heart. I don't say this with any confidence in myself; I can do nothing without Christ, so I'm not boasting. I pray that even in failure, I call on the name of the Lord.

Merana: I like what you said, "Isn't that the truth?" Every one of us have tasted failure in our lives. I appreciate that the Lord because He's brought me to a place where I now see that, I may fail at something, but I'm not a failure; failure no longer defines my life.

Ruth: I think the difficulty is in yielding control of my life to the Lord, trusting Him with the outcome. I have to remind myself that God is never caught off guard or surprised by anything; He just knows while I wonder, wander and search.

I think it's in our nature to want to control the circumstances and situations of our lives. Sometimes we even attempt to control others; even God. I'm discovering that as I trust God, He instills a peace and contentment in me.

Saleslady371: I will be praying for you my sister that as you walk through this trial, you experience what Paul encourages us to do in Philippians 4:6-7, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -- We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

Nicole said...

Another wonderful post MTJ! Glad you are home and safe. I hope you had a great trip!

Your posts are always so powerful and always make me think. I will always trust in Him no matter what. It is hard when we are going through hard times but a lot of times it does make us stronger because then we lean on Him!
Reminds me of 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
(you'll have to look it up (: )

God bless you my brother for your encouraging and thoughtful words!

Stuff could always be worse said...

I guess we all try to be perfect?? I do but have to realize we cannot. Yes we need God! again and again
kim

Wendy said...

During this current part of my life I have been "forced" to see God in a new light, my provider, protector, husband. Everyday I learn to trust Him more. Thanks for your thoughts

Peggy said...

AMEN!!! Amen! Amen!

Well said MTJ or written... and so powerful! It's so good to have you back with these thought filled posts...

"Don’t give out, don’t give in, and don’t give up on God."

Good advice backed up with plenty of punch! Don't ya' just love these 3 but I prefer to avoid the fiery furnace and "failures" but we all go there and we're all being refined and re-defined! This once more is a wonderful testimony to the man of God that you have become! Praise God!

So many excellent points here:

"I never looked at failure as success."

Being tested, tried and fired along with you, my friend. But looks like you have gathered yours and used them for His glory! You have a way to challenge us with your words. You helped me to see that "I am not a failure" though I may have failed. So many good thoughts and lessons... I am truly blessed by you. I do and will trust God! I truly LOVE THIS!!! YA HOO!!! PTL

"I’m going to shout for joy when I’m tried because my trials produce endurance in me, and that’s a good thing. It means that in time, my failures will become fewer and fewer.

It means, I’m not giving out to my trial.

It means, I’m not giving in to fear.

It means, I’m not giving up on God."

Thank you MTJ!!!

From The Heart Online said...

Hi MTJ!

What a great post. I love the bit about how they didn't care about the result. God has been revealing to me that truth lately - that the result of my action does not determine my success.

I want blessings and happiness and comfort and ease. ... but do I want to follow God more? Do I trust him that the joy promised from Him FAR outweighs any of the happiness promised outside of his will?

Wow. That takes some serious faith to walk into a fire for God.

I'm so glad to read your blog. Thanks for sharing. (I smiled when I read, 'Oh but things are different now, baby!'

Right on. :)

MTJ said...

Nicole: You are like a sister to me (of course, I'm the older brother and yet, it doesn't hinder you from being Nicole). That thought gives me joy because a brother and sister not only look out for each other but they don't have the shackles that prevent speaking from the heart in grace and truth.

So having just returned from a long, exhausting trip, what do you give me as a welcome gift? A To Do List? Go look up a scripture buddy! Thanks Sis for at least giving me the location where my feeble eyes can find it. (:)

Kim: I think that I personally experienced frustration in trying to be perfect. I felt a great deal of pressure to be a certain kind of way, talk a certain way, dress a certain way; I thank God I no longer feel that kind of pressure.

I'm think this is similar to what you refer to when you say, "I guess we all try to be perfect??" I'm just trying to live my life in a way that honors Christ. For me, there is a personal sense of joy and freedom because I no longer feel the external pressures which others exerted on me to live up to a perceived standard.

Like you say, "...we need God!"

Wendy: I get what you're saying, "Everyday I learn to trust Him more." -- There is an honor and privilege for me to trust God more; I'm finding great joy in this knowledge.

Peggy: I believe the upward call of Christ is God challenging us to ascend. Like John wrote in Revelation 4:1, I think the Lord says, "...Come up here...", so that we gain a perspective and clarity of thought from a different vantage point.

More than anything, I believe God wants to encourage us to trust Him no matter what. So the question, "Can you trust God?...is a challenge to myself to be all I can be in Christ Jesus.

Kim: How did the book promotion go? An inquiring mind wants to know. Thank you for stopping by and visiting. You bless me Kim! Isn't that just awesome how these men didn't care about the threat of death?

As I thought about this, I kept hearing this song by Andrae' Crouch called Jesus is Lord. The king wanted them to bow down to him and his image. They bowed, but not how he expected. They turned their backs on king Nebuchadnezzar and bowed to the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ!

Each of us in this life face trials, some literally face fiery trials, the realization is that our Immanuel is with us, all the way, totally committed to see us through. This knowledge give me joy and peace; enabling and empowering me to trust God.

lioneagle said...

Hi MTJ -

Your piece is a sure boost to spirits. Thank you for this assurance reminder that GOD is sovereign above all.

Faith Imagined said...

I have also been trying to take joy with my trials because I know I'll be more Christ-like afterwards. Not an easy task but it is getting easier. I had never thought that it was also an opportunity for God to prove Himself to me. What an awesome thought!

MTJ said...

Sandra: Thanks for being a blessings.

Alisa: I agree, the more I consider it a joyful experience, the more I find that in Christ I can endure.

Dean Spencer said...

MTJ -

I find your post very interesting. As you know, I've been going through Romans. As I was reading what you have here, I got an even broader picture of what Paul was saying in Romans 5:3-5.

3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Now, I even see an application of these verses; going through trials that is. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego demonstrate their character and their hope as they were unwilling to "not give out, not give in, and not give up."

I'm so glad you shared this. I definitely want to trust God in this way. Like you said, "He is my assurance. He is my confidence. He is my security."

Have a great weekend! God bless!

sarah said...

I love this story...b/c it's full of hope and faith and being true to what they believed. I can see it in my mind.....the guys...standing strong....refusing to give out...give in...give up. A great post....

lynnmosher said...

Amen and amen! Great post! Blessings to you, my friend! :D

MTJ said...

Dean: Romans is my favorite New Testament book and I'm blessed as I read through the insights you have posted. I am learning that faith, hope and trust isn't me relying on me, it's me relying on the Lord; no matter what the outcome may be.

Sarah: I am finding much encouragement from the men and women of scripture who put their trust in God. I need to stop by and visit your blog. So much has been happening with me that my time seems to be at a different pace now.

Lynn: I've enjoyed the Romans series and the guest bloggers on Heading Home. I look forward to reading more; you are a blessing.

From The Heart Online said...

Hi MTJ. The book launch went very well! Here's the miracle part of it:
http://www.fromtheheartonline.net/2010/10/battle-and-sword.html

I think I need to post about the journey ... it's weird and interesting and scary and daunting and exhilarating and intimidating and fantastic ...

I don't know what God is doing here, but it's His - his book, his project, and I can't wait to see what he does with it.

Thanks for asking :)