I wanted to share to my fellow ministers, feel free to use my outline and notes as a starting point for your sermon.  All the words below are free to use, no credit needed, I just want to help my fellow preachers, speakers, ministers, teachers, etc!

Intro: your highest idea is your God. The desire that takes you over and directs your behavior. Who takes you over and directs your behavior. Is it a money, greedy, violent God? Is it the God of war.?

I. Where did these boys start? Intimacy with God.

(The context – they were praying by themselves, honoring the true God and true king, doing this in private, before being called in public before the king)

 

  • When are you most brave? Fear is the opposite of being intimate with God…

 

  • Intimacy with God is a continual process
  • Intimacy with God does not guarantee health, wealth, and prosperity
  • Intimacy with God is the best thing ever
    1. These boys experienced a new level of intimacy with God by being obedient (his presence was with them in the fiery furnace).  They would not have experienced this had they not continued to bow to him / be intimate with him.
  1. What are you looking at?  Who is your focus? What is your focus?
    (The context – these boys were called before the king and spoke the truth. God was with them and confirmed it by their actions and words)
  • The 3 boys could have compromised.  They didn’t because their focus was on something beyond what was happening in the world
    1. Look at the situation only through the eyes of the world. The king had his army, and gold, and the power to occupy what was once their nation. These 3 young men had no visible sign previous that they were in the right, that there was any hope, that they should do anything but bow down to the incredible power that was before them.
    2. What did they see instead?
  • The 3 boys had a lot to lose. Families, jobs. How did they see beyond that?
    1. In the fight against fascism, tyranny, oppression, what keeps people in line much of the time is that they have something to lose. Things can always get worse for them.  There is often very little glory in “fighting the good fight,” and the martyrs who are remembered are a tiny minority.  For every MLK there are literally a thousand who get “disappeared” and no one even hears about it.  This was a despotic, militaristic, major world power.  These 3 men had, in foresight, nothing to gain by laying down their lives.
    2. What did they see that they were willing to be thrown into the fire?
  • How do you think the conversation went with their families?
    1. There was a community of people who were only loyal to God
    2. There was a larger, dominant community of people who were loyal to the king
    3. The Jews continued to do Jew things, that’s who they were (do you know who you are?)
    4. What did they do as a family and community, that they were prepared to say “goodbye,” leave their neighborhood to go and challenge the king… intimacy with God as a family and community
      1. There are times when I have heard from God some thing, and my spouse had to catch up.  There have been times when my spouse hears a thing from God, and I catch up to her.  God speaks to community, God’s voice helps us through challenging times like this… challenging times can pull us apart, or it can bring us closer together

III. The power of the world vs the power of God’s kingdom

  1. God is our King
    1. Jesus was the perfect king
    2. Jesus modeled sacrificial love, and power
    3. How did Jesus rise to power? What was his response to the power of the world?
  2. Neb. as King
    1. What was the proof of his power? (violence, signs of wealth)
    2. What were the values of his kingdom? What did he model as king?
    3. How do people of the world rise to power? (domination, signs of wealth, violence)
  1. The “golden statues” of our world
  1. What are the signs of power of the world?
  2. What are the signs that someone is powerful in Jesus kingdom?
  3. Imagine if we lived in the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world.  What would be the sign of that? (large military, stock market, worship of celebrity, it would be in our language)
    1. What would change if we were to worship and value the wrong things? (let’s just assume that we don’t. What would change if we did?)
    2. What are the distinctives of a Christian today?  What difference does it make that we have Jesus as our king?  What difference does it make that we worship him instead of the kings of the world?
  1. What kind of power do you have?
  • The closest we get to conversations about power are usually couched in privilege and the oppression olympics (who’s more oppressed than who)
  • Occasionally we can talk about the power of a nation, which is never “the nation that prays more” or the nation that gives most, or treats its power the best, a great nation is a military and economic power
  • The way of the world is, if someone comes against you with an army you have to get a bigger, better, maybe smarter or more advanced army. Or all of the above.  The way of the world is, if someone has more money than you, you have to be bigger, better, smarter, or more advanced to get more money than them.  The way of the world is if someone tries to take your life, you take theirs first.  And that is doubly true if your family, tribe, or nation is involved.
  • The way of Jesus is this: 3 men stand before the king and say, I will worship the true God, I won’t worship the God of money and power, and whatever happens to me because of that, I will trust God in that.
  1. This was a political, economic, cultural, and spiritual power struggle.
  1. The Jews were culturally distinct.  They did not participate in the worship of gold, they looked different, they danced different, they spoke different, they dressed different.  They led their people different.  They did it publicly and privately both (there was symmetry there).  They ate, slept, sang, had sex / families, they worshipped differently … the Jewish culture was not *just* a different way of worshipping, it was in everything they did
  2. The political and economic systems were merged under the king.
  3. Spiritual power
    1. This was a spiritual power struggle, we know because this was supernatural intervention by God.  The person of God showed up in the fire and saved them
    2. Their words had spiritual power.  The king tried to get a reaction out of them (worship my statue) and these men refused, and ended up getting a big reaction out of the king.  This is a sign of spiritual security, and power in God.
    3. Their actions had spiritual power.  They did in private for a long time what they also did when under the spotlight.  They had cultivated a strong relationship with God in private for a long time before they faced the king.
    4. They trusted God either way – even if they died, they placed their trust in God.  This is how spiritual power works.  We trust God in good and bad, all the way to the point of death (in a fiery furnace).  And when we are focused on God at every end of the spectrum, good or bad, we see him work.
    5. The enemy’s power source (violence, wealth, fire, a system / society that backed up his power, soldiers willing to do his bidding, etc) was less powerful than the men.
      1. These 3 men were summoned before the king.  The king flexed his power, the men submitted to this point.  It looks, in the worldly sense, like a loss of power.
      2. These 3 men were tied up.  To the world this looks like a loss of power
      3. Notice where they stood.  The king’s court. His spokesmen, his soldiers, apparently a whole band and choir to lead the worship of this statue.  Presumably a massive, 50ft tall statue of gold.  In the eyes of the world, this looks like 3 boys versus an entire, conquering nation.
      4. These 3 men were physically tossed into fire.  Again, loss of power.
      5. Up until that point, if your eyes were focused on the world, this would all make sense, and it would be the end of the story – you do what the world tells you.  The voice of the king of the world is to be listened to, it will go easier and better for you if you do.  You’ll die if you don’t.
      6. Before, during and after this encounter, these 3 men knew who had all the power.  Their eyes were open and focused on God the whole time.  
        1. Do you think they were surprised that they survived the fire?
        2. Do you think that they were a bit nervous when they got thrown in?
        3. Imagine if you could respond only to God, instead of the voice of the world, all the way up to the point where … you get arrested, thrown away, killed.

 

  1. Amazing things are possible with God.
  1. Miracle story #1
  2. Miracle story #2
  3. Miracle story #3
  4. Invite the congregation to share their own stories of miracles in the gathering or afterwards.