Encounters with God: Week 4
“Dealing with pressure situations”
Part of being a Christian is being different. There is no doubt that when the Holy Spirit begins to move in your life and change you, you begin to look, act, and think differently than everyone else does. This change is good and should not be feared by the growing child of God. However, as we grow, we find that we begin to leave behind all those things that once defined us as person. We lose friends, stop frequenting certain places, and change our speech or even our look. Naturally this causes a disconnect among those who knew the old man. Because of this, we often feel pressure from our past. The temptation to continue in sin will present itself in the form of friends, family, habits, or responsibilities. We will even deal with negativity at times. Most people, when they know the change in you is good, will push back at you, hoping you will bend so that they will feel better about their unwillingness to change themselves. Remember, Christ changes people while your circumstances stay the same. This is the same as placing a pot of water on a hot stove. The burner never makes contact with the water, yet the water begins to boil because the pot changes temperature. Christ changes us and in turn, we affect those around us.
We sometimes think that because we do not deal with the same amount of persecution and pressure that other Christians do, we don’t need to learn to deal with it. This is false. The Bible asks us to study to become an approved workman. This means in every aspect. Though we may not be facing life or death because of our faith, we can still learn how to properly deal with harsh questions or hateful actions towards us. Its imperative that we learn to live for God in every detail of our faith.
In the text passage, we see three young men in a tough situation. In this case, there very lives depended on the answer they would give the king. However, they “came through the fire” because of their predetermined faith in God. This was not the time to begin spiritual growth, this was the time to exhibit it. A runner does not go to the race to begin his workout. His workout is something that has brought him to where he is. If you cannot learn to trust God in the small things, how can we expect to trust God when pressure comes? Let’s look at three things the Hebrew boys did before the King.
They remembered where their home was. Matthew 6:19-21. They were not of this country. They had been brought to Babylon against their will. The Babylonians we good at this process of taking captives. When they would conquer a city, they would leave its inhabitants in the rule of a Babylonian leader. However, they would pick and choose those whom they wanted to serve them, or the King himself. As they picked these men, they would kill their families while they watched to set in their minds a state of hopelessness. Then they would change their names completely and allow them to live only by Babylonian culture. Over time, this was effective in making the captives forget about home. They would be of Babylon. As Christians, we are not of this world. We may see the world, and all its issues and problems. We may interact with the world, all those without Christ, and those living their lives for themselves. However, that is not us. Why is it that we forget this sometimes. In so many aspects of our lives, we have integrated with the world. We begin to look it and act like it. How did these Hebrew boys not fall to temptation or pressure? Simply put, they knew who they were. They were God’s people, and not the worlds. Do we live like we belong in God’s country?
They were unconcerned with position. Eph. 1:3-9. These guys were pretty high up at this point in their lives. They had it all together. They were “set over the affairs of the providence of Babylon”. I’m going to guess that had some significance of some sort. However, when the time came, their personal relationship with God was more important. Do you want to know the strength of your faith? Ask yourself when you will change? Will your faith waver when confronted by someone important in your life; someone who can change your situation? Will your attitude towards God change when confronted by certain friends whom you enjoy hanging around? It’s simple to stand up for God and trust what it true when it’s in a situation of no consequence. When nothing is on the line, faith is easy. It’s in the situations when your life will be altered that require true faith in God. These boys were not only unconcerned with their position; they were unconcerned with the King's. They knew that to trust God was much more important than to bow to men.
They were content with being different. Titus 2:11-15. Society is funny at times. It tells us that to be accepted, we must act, look, and talk like others do. If not, we can find ourselves on the outside looking in. You need to like the same things, go the same places, and look a certain way (see “The Lego Movie” for further explanation). We as Christians should be different! Why do we feel pressure to be like the world? Simple: we are not filled up with God. The more God we put in our lives, the more unnecessary it is to be liked and accepted by man. At times, you may feel out of place when someone comments on a certain movie or song or is talking a certain way around you. Guess what: that’s great! You're different. They are enjoying those things because they do not have the Holy Spirit to direct them away from that. It’s a joy to live free from what the devil has for the lost around us. Don’t catch yourself wishing for their actions. You may not see it on the outside, but according to God’s Word, they are not fulfilled. Fill yourself up with Christ and be ok with being different.
Do you want a great encounter with God? Remember your home is there, not here. Choose God over advancement, when given the choice. Be content with being different. Make your faith in Christ paramount over everything else! Spend the rest of time taking prayer requests and spending time in prayer.