No Pain No Gain
The reward of faithfulness is always greater than the pain of faithfulness. What you gain by remaining faithful in the face of tribulation will always be greater Han the pain you experience. There is nothing easy about faith. The journey is hard but the reward is great. Faith is a journey. We are moving from one degree of grace to the next. We are moving from where we were to where we are going to be. Faith is an action word, it requires moving and testing in order to prove that’s its real faith. Sometimes just trying to make it from one day to the next is hard. But to get somewhere you have to go through something. You make up in your mind that you’re going to be a better example at work and you aren’t going to let people get under your skin, and on your way to being a better Christian somebody comes at you with an attitude. You make up your mind that you are going to be a better steward with your money, you’re going to tithe and give consistently and on your way to becoming a better steward a financial crisis strikes. Between where you are and where you want to go there will be some testing that takes place and if you can be faithful during the test God will reward you with his faithfulness.
The three Hebrew boys Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, found out that God will keep you in the fire if you just keep the faith. The story goes, King Nebuchadnezzar had a golden image erected 60 cubits tall and 6 cubits wide.The King made a commandment that at the sound of the horn, bagpipe everyone had to fall down and worship the golden image. Anyone who did not worship the image was to be thrown in the fiery furnace. As any obedient servant, the horns and the instruments began to play and the three did not bow. But don’t you know there’s always someone who wants what you have and want to be where you are looking for a way to get what you have. The text says that at a certain time some of the Chaldeans went to the King and said, “ O King remember the commandment you set? That everyone at the sound of the horns, lyres, should bow down and worship the Golden Image.” Here’s where it gets messy, “those three Jewish boys that you set over the affairs of Babylon.” It was clear that they envied Shadrach, Meshach, and Abenego, and envious people are the people that Christians have to worry about the most. You know these people. These are the people that watched you come up out of the mud. They have watched your faithfulness, and they’ve watched the Lord bless you. They’ve watched you humble yourself, and they have witnessed the Lord raising you up higher and higher. You know these people. These are the people who never have anything good to say. They sit in the bushes and wait for you to stumble so that they can pull you back down. The Chaldeans had watched Daniel and his friends come into their land, refrain from their food and their wine, yet be blessed by the Lord and promoted by the King. The Chaldeans refused to give honor to God, but became jealous when God started blessing the faithful. They said, “O King those three boys that you just promoted refuse to obey your commandments”.
From there the King called a meeting with the rebellious servants and again tested their faith. He asked them, “ Is it true that you refuse to worship my golden image? Again, the instruments sound off and they refused to worship. King Nebuchadnezzar became so angry the Bible says his expression changed. He ordered his men to heat up the furnace seven times hotter than normal. Bind the boys, and throw them in the furnace. As the Lord would have it, when they got to the furnace, the guards went to throw the boys in and the flame consumed the men who threw them In the fire were consumed by the flame. King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace to see if the rebels had been roasted only to discover that there were no longer three men in the furnace. He said there was a fourth, and he looked like the son of God. After the King realized that the God of the Jews was also the God of the flames he summoned them to come out of the furnace. After seeing the power of god on display the king made a new decree. No one will be able to speak against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, because no other God could deliver this way.
THEN the king caused Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to prosper in Babylon. The word then, is conjunctive introducing the next event or the result of a previous event. The previous event was the testing of their faith and trial of the furnace. As a result, God used the King to prosper them in a strange land. In order to get to the then, they had to pass the test. You can’t expect any gain without experiencing some pain. The pain is for your development. The pain prepares you and repairs you. The pain is necessary. Notice the three Hebrew boys went into the furnace bound. They came out of the furnace loosed. You might be experiencing some pain but the pain isn’t the end. You have to wait on the then. Can I give you three steps to take to get to the then?
The first thing you must do in order find gain in your pain is trust God in uncertain circumstances.
(ESV): If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up
Real trust is not predicated by what you can see, but by what you believe. You’ve got to be able to trust God although you can’t see God. You only trust God as much as you obey God. The measuring stick for a persons trust in someone is how far they will
go to obey them. Real trust is when you lean on the words of a person when all you have is their word to lean on. Faithfulness is evident when you behave in a persons absence the same you would in their presence. For these three they were facing being thrown in the furnace if they didn’t bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s image. They were in a Goodless land, before a Godless man yet they still acted like God was on their side. The King asked them, “if you do not worship the golden image you will be thrown into this fiery furnace, and who is this God that shall deliver you out of my hands?”
When you stand face to face with temptation can you trust God enough to respond like he’s standing beside you? Can you trust God when you can’t feel God? Just because you can’t feel him does not mean he’s not there. Because God is everywhere. He doesn’t have to go anywhere to get anywhere. He bumps into himself everywhere he goes. They couldn’t see God while they were standing face to face with Nebuchadnezzar, but God was already in the furnace. You have to trust God in the beginning like you can see the end. You’ve got to trust God when your pain begins like you would when the pain is over. Trust God as if you know the outcome before it’s over. You have to trust God to provide when even when you can’t feel his presence.
Elijah the Tishbite, found himself down by the brook in the middle of a drought. Elijah couldn’t see God but he trusted him enough to follow his word down the brook. Elijah didn’t have to go hunting for breakfast, but he trusted God in the morning and God sent him a meat and bread combo by way of a raven. When dinner time came Elijah still didn’t see God with his eyes, but he trusted him. At dinner time, God provided him another meat and bread combo by way of a raven. If you can let go of fear and trust God, he will grow your faith in him because he’s a God who cannot fail. Elijah’s trust in God had grew so strong that he wanted to convince somebody else they could trust God. When the brook dried up, God sent him to Zeraphat. There was a widow down there. He asked the her to bring him a vessel of water and a morsel of bread. She responded, “ I don’t have any baked goods, only a little flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. Right now I’m going to gather some sticks, go in and prepare a little something for me and my son then we will eat it and die.” Elijah told her, “listen I know a God, that if you trust him he can provide just what you need. I trusted him in the morning and he delivered breakfast. I trusted him in the evening and he provided dinner. Go in and do as you said but first make me a little cake and bring it to me. If you trust the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob your flour and oil will never run out.” The woman trusted God, she made the cake, fed herself and her son. Then went back to the barrel and took a dip. Trusted God and took another dip. Trusted God and took another dip. Trusted God and took another dip. The more she trusted him, the more he provided, and the more he provided the more she trusted him. The Bible never said she had a surplus of what she needed, but she always had enough.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abenego trusted God even when they couldn’t see God. The King, who is this God that will deliver you? What he was really implying was, where is this God that you think is going to deliver you from the furnace. What the King didn’t know was that God specializes in showing up right when you need him.
You can’t hurry God, no, no, no, You’ve just got to wait. You got to trust and give him time no matter how long it takes. But he’ll be there don’t you worry . I say he may not come when you want him but he’s always right on time. We have to trust God when we can’t see him, because he’ll show up when we need him.
Secondly, we have to stay focused and the prize and not the pain. The race is not given to the swift or the strong, but to the one that endureth until the end. Which suggests that somewhere along the way there will be temptation to not finish the race. In order to complete the race sometimes you will have to endure some pain. King Nebuchadnezzar made a painful threat to the Hebrew boys when he told them if they did not bow they would consumed by the furnace. That’s a scary thought. King Nebuchadnezzar said that they violated the Kings command. But the reason they violated the King’s command was because they were focused on God’s command. If you can focus your eyes and your mind on God’s command then you can overcome your trials. Our biggest hindrance as Christians is that we focus too much on the wrong things. We focus on what we don’t have instead of what we do have. That’s how we end up losing what we had. We focus too much on our burdens instead of our blessings. That’s why we can’t say amen. We focus on who’s preaching instead of what’s being preached. That’s how we end up with so many celebrity preachers. If you learn to focus on prize rather than the pain then you won’t succumb to the pressure.
How do I get to the prize? I know how to get to the pain. Well the text makes it clear. The path to pain was defying the King’s commandment. But on the other side, I want to tell you that the path to the prize is through obeying God’s commandments.