We're glad you're joining us for A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. Get more encouraging audio content when you subscribe to Pastor Greg's Daily Devos.
Learn more and sign up at harvest.org. You're going to get it in difficult situations. Trials are like God's gym where we're broken down in order to be built up. Ever see a piece of petrified wood? It's hard as a rock. It's wood that was under such intense pressure for such a long time, it became solid and rock-like. It's a good object lesson on how times of pressure can make us stronger. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points to a time of pressure faced by three Hebrew young men. They refused to engage in idol worship, and the punishment they faced would surely spell their demise.
Or would it make them stronger? When I was a little boy, I was a little bit of a junior pyromaniac. Do you know what a pyromaniac is? It's someone who plays with fire. Not a good idea.
I like to set things on fire. Especially army men. You know those little green army men?
You'd get a bunch in a little bag and they had various shapes. You know, some were laying on the ground with their rifle. Some worked down on one knee holding their rifle. I think there was one guy with binoculars, right? In fact, one time I was lighting army men on fire at home alone.
It reminds me of a movie, right? And then the newspaper I placed the army men on caught on fire. Never burn army men on newspaper. And so then the newspapers were on fire and I threw them into a wastebasket made out of bamboo and then it caught on fire.
Fortunately, I was able to get it under control. But when I lived with my grandparents, we had a big blast kind of furnace. One of those floor furnaces. And I love to take my army men and put them on the grates of the furnace and watch them melt and then drop down.
You can always tell because you can smell burning plastic. Over our floor furnace was a painting of Jesus. A familiar one. He's not really looking at you. He's sort of looking away. And so here is the burning furnace. And here is Jesus sort of looking away.
Probably rolling his eyes if he could at what I'm doing as a little boy. Well, I bring that up because I want to talk about a furnace and I want to talk about Jesus. But the furnace I want to talk about was not my grandparents' house. It was in Babylon. And it was very hot. And it was set up by King Nebuchadnezzar for anyone who would not bow before the image he had erected. And Jesus was there not looking away with indifference but fully engaged because it's a story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the burning fire. Well, one night Nebuchadnezzar has a crazy dream given to him by God.
And in the stream he saw this great image and he didn't understand it. So he called in all of his soothsayers and clairvoyants and astrologers and palm readers and all the rest of these guys who dabbled in all this wickedness and black magic if you want to call it that. And said, ok you guys if you are worth anything tell me what I just dreamt and tell me what it means.
They said, hold on. You tell us what you dreamt and we will interpret it. Oh yeah. Right.
In other words you will just make up something. If you are worth anything you will know the dream and the interpretation. So what is it?
So there is no way you can know this. Oh really? Then you are all dead men. I am going to have you all put to death. So now they are all going to be executed and so they show up at the house of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and say the king has really ticked off at all of you advisors.
You are all going to die. Daniel says, well what is happening? Well he had this dream and he doesn't know what the dream means. Give me some time.
Let me pray about it. So Daniel prays and the Lord reveals to him the dream of the king and the interpretation. He shows up in front of the king and says, here is what you dreamt. You saw a giant image and it had a head that was made out of gold. And it had arms of silver. Belly and thigh of brass. Legs of iron and feet of clay. And a rock came out of a mountain and crushed the toes. Was that your dream?
Yes it was. Ok here is the interpretation. Daniel went on to explain it. And then the king said in response in Daniel 2.47, your God is the God of gods and the Lord is over all kings. He is a revealer of mysteries for you have been able to reveal the secret. So after this you would have thought that Nebuchadnezzar would have believed in the Lord. Not in your life. Apparently he knew about God but he didn't know God.
And as chapter 3 opens around 16 to 20 years have passed. And the king has erected a 90 foot statue of himself covered in gold. It was the ultimate selfie. There it was. And then he said ok and I want everybody to fall down and worship this image. And standing out like three sore thumbs.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Well the king sort of had a soft spot for him. Ok because I am going to give you another chance you know. I know you will reconsider. Come on just bow down. I like you guys. I like having you around the palace. So we are going to crank up the theme song. Just get down on your knees with everybody else.
Everything will be great. Here is our response. Daniel 3.17. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace he will rescue us from your power your majesty. But even if he doesn't you can be sure we will never serve your gods.
Ok now he is really ticked off. Look at what happens. Daniel 3.19. Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego his face became distorted with rage.
You ever see that happen? Just when you get someone so mad they are just. That was Nebuchadnezzar.
How dare you defy me. The most powerful man on earth. He commanded the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than usual. And he ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So they tied them up. Threw them into the furnace fully clothed. And because the king in his anger had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace the flames leaped out and killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in. So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego securely tied fell down into the roaring flames. Then suddenly as he was watching Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisors, Didn't we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace? Yes your majesty.
That is what we did. Look says Nebuchadnezzar. I see four men unbound walking around on the fire and they aren't even hurt by the flames and the fourth is like the son of God. Wow. I love that passage.
So what is going on here? Well in fairness this phrase the son of God could also be translated a son of the gods. I don't know that Nebuchadnezzar thought this was Jesus or had any concept of Jesus.
But I think that he just knew whoever that dude was he was powerful and he didn't want to mess with them. But they were in this large furnace walking around like it is a stroll in the park. And there is not three. There is four. And I believe it was Christ himself walking with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. And he might have even brought some sunscreen. I don't know.
Listen. I told this story to my grandkids the other night. And they said, but Papa Jesus isn't in the Old Testament. He was born in Bethlehem. He is in the New Testament.
Which is a pretty good insight for little kids right? I said you guys are actually right but don't forget Jesus has always existed. He is part of the Trinity and he pops up in the Old Testament too. And when he does we call it a Christophany. And I believe this is a Christophany where Jesus makes an appearance walking with them.
And you know what? When you are going through your fiery trial he is with you as well. Jesus said, lo I am with you even to the end of the age. And Jesus said in Hebrews 13, I will never, no never, no never leave you or forsake you. Back to my pyromania.
Unlike my situation where I put my army men on my grandparents floor furnace. Jesus is not looking away. He is watching you. He is engaged with you. He is helping you. And he is there with you. In fact we are told in James 1.
I told you to turn there as well. James 1 from a modern translation says, when all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers. Don't treat them as intruders but friends. Realize they come to test your faith and to produce in you a quality of endurance. And let that process go on until you are fully developed and find that you become men of mature character.
Men and women of integrity with no weak spots. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. We're so encouraged when we hear that Pastor Greg's teachings are making an impact on people's lives and relationships. Dear Pastor Greg, I listened to a message you recently gave about going to someone in our past and forgiving them.
My flesh didn't want to do it, but I know that obedience brings a blessing and we are to be obedient to God and not our flesh. I don't know how your message came to me today, but it came at the right time. Because God's never late, right? He gives us what we need when we need it.
And I needed your message today. Pastor Greg, may God bless you and your family. It's a blessing to know that God is using his word to touch hearts. How have Pastor Greg's studies impacted your life?
Would you let him know? Drop an email to Greg at Harvest dot org. And now more from Pastor Greg's message called Staying Cool When Things Get Hot. Why does God allow trials? Why does God have us go through hardships? Here's a simple answer.
God allows trials in our lives so we will grow up spiritually. It's sort of like going to the gym. You know, you go to the gym to work out. You effectively break down muscle to build up muscle. One problem people have sometimes is they try to do too much weight, too many reps, and they get themselves in trouble. You need to build up to it.
Be careful. And then as you get stronger, you can handle more weight, you can handle more reps, etc. But that is how you get stronger. And I go to the gym. I don't go that often.
I don't like to go to the gym. I'm always happy when I leave it. I like to be done with it. I don't understand people that say, just had a good workout.
I'm like, what? Good workout? I just like, I endure it. I put up with it because, and in my case, as you get older, it's about maintaining mobility now, you see. It's not just doing weights.
It's mobility. Get up from seat. Sit down on seat, you know.
Be able to move, bend over, things like that. And sometimes people as they're getting older say, oh, I'm so old, old, old. Yeah, you're kind of fat, too. There's that.
I know I've just offended a bunch of people, but just remember when I have one finger pointing out, I have three pointing back at me. See that right there. Look, you can't stop the aging process, but you have something to say about the shape you're in.
And so in the same way spiritually, we'll say, oh, it's so hard to be a Christian. I don't have any strength. Well, maybe you need a good workout.
And you know where you're going to get that workout? You're going to get it in fiery trials and difficult situations. Trials are like God's gym where we're broken down in order to be built up.
You need to go through them. It'll make you stronger as a result. Trials produce something easy times will not produce, and that is spiritual toughness. James 1-3 says, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. Patience is an unfortunate translation, I would say.
It comes from a Greek word that means toughness, heroic endurance, or perseverance. So the way you get stronger is by going through difficult situations that bolster and build up your faith. And if you don't go through these times, your faith is going to remain weak and ineffective. If you want to grow spiritually, you have to get through these things. So don't run from them, as we already read in that one translation.
Don't treat these things as intruders, but as friends. So you might pray, Lord, use me for your glory. Just bless me today. And a trial comes.
Excuse me, Lord, there must be a problem with our connection. I prayed for a blessing and a trial came. I didn't ask for a trial, I asked for a blessing. Did you know that trials can be blessings in disguise? Because they're preparing you.
You want to be that blessing, you must be prepared and be whipped into shape by God himself. That's why James says, count it all joy when you fall into various trials. A trial can be translated multi-colored trials.
Each one is a little different than the one that preceded it. So look, they're going to come. There's no getting around these things. You will be tested.
The question is, will you pass or fail? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego passed the test with flying colors. The king had to back up and change his tune. How do they do it? They did it by making a stand earlier in life when the foundation of life is laid. And then they were able to make the stand later in life when they were more set in their ways. Listen, we're all going to be pressured to bow before some kind of idol in our life. John reminds us in his epistle, little children keep yourself from idols.
An idol is anyone or anything that takes the place of God. Does a 90 foot golden image qualify? Absolutely. Does a super cool car that you're obsessed with qualify? Possibly.
Does your cell phone that you can't go two inches without qualify? Maybe. Could a relationship be an idol? Could be. Especially if it was more important than your relationship with God. Could a career be an idol?
I think it could be. Where if you're so obsessed with being successful that it brings problems in your spiritual life, is that thing more important to you than God himself? Lots of things can become idols. Lots of things can take the place of God in our life. So let's be careful to not bow before any of them because all of us will have our faith tested.
Some of you are having it tested right now. Some situation you've recently gone through and it was hard for you to stand up and say, I'm a Christian. I believe this. But do that thing and as you stand up for him, he will stand up for you. It'll be worth it. You'll see. There's coming a world leader one day that will be very similar to Nebuchadnezzar. He too will erect an image and he too will demand worship. The Bible calls him the antichrist.
The beast. Initially he'll emerge on the scene as a man of peace with solutions to all the conflicts that we see around the planet today. But then he'll reveal his true colors because one of the things antichrist will do is he will rebuild the temple.
There will be a third temple for the Jewish people in Israel. And in the temple he will erect an image of himself and command everyone to worship. And Jesus in Matthew 24 called this the abomination of desolation. He says, when you see the abomination of desolation. And then he says, let the reader understand. That's interesting because some people say, well you can't understand Bible prophecy.
It's much too complex really. Well Jesus said, let the reader understand. And I told you the word revelation means unveiling. It is God's desire not to conceal but to reveal. To uncover.
To make it clear. In fact in Daniel chapter 12 remember we read earlier that some of these truths are going to be revealed to believers living in the last days. I believe we're in the last days. And I believe an antichrist is coming.
It's possible this man is alive on earth even today. But there is already the spirit of antichrist out there. And I don't mean literal antichrist. I mean it's antichrist. The prefix anti can also be translated instead of Christ. There's a mentality of things that are offered to us instead of Christ or sometimes in opposition to Christ. So we have a choice in life. Antichrist or Jesus Christ. Hell or heaven.
That's our choice that we make in life. Because one day this man will come on this scene and it's going to be a bad time and it will be during the tribulation period that is coming upon the earth. But we have a promise that for all true believers Jesus will come and catch us up to be with Him in heaven.
Before any of this even begins. And I believe I'm going to go. Are you coming with me? I heard about a preacher that was talking to his church and he said, How many of you want to die and go to heaven one day? Everybody raise their hand.
And one little boy wasn't raising his hand up. The preacher said, Son don't you want to die and go to heaven one day? He says, Yes but I thought you were getting a load up right now. And we don't want to die now. Nobody wants to die at all. And if in fact you are that generation that is walking this earth when Christ comes for His people you actually will not die.
But be caught up into the presence of the Lord. It's a glorious thing. Well that's escapism. You better believe it.
It's escapism. I call it the great escape. And it will be there for every follower of Christ. Now look if that doesn't happen in my lifetime and I don't know that it will.
I hope it will. When I die I will go to heaven. So one way or another I am going to heaven.
That's why Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego could face off with Nebuchadnezzar because they were in a win-win situation. Then you no matter what. Hey we don't want to go into that stinking fiery furnace. But we are going to go to heaven. We are going to live forever. Only the Christian has that hope. So I ask you in closing do you have that hope? As you listen to this message right now are you certain that if you were to die today you would go to heaven? Say well you know I am trying to be a good person and if I am a good person and I am religious I will get to heaven. Really?
No. Heaven is not for good people. I will put that word good in quotes. Heaven is not for religious people. Heaven is for forgiven people. The only way you will get to heaven is by being forgiven of your sin. And the only way you can be forgiven of your sin is by asking Jesus Christ to do it because only Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sin.
That is how we sing about the cross all the time. And talk about His death all the time. And celebrate His resurrection all the time. Because at the cross He defeated death and He forgives sin.
But you must ask Him to forgive you. So in closing we are going to pray. If you have never asked Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sin.
If you don't have the confidence that you will go to heaven when you die. Why don't you respond to this invitation that I am going to extend now in prayer. And if you need Jesus in your life please respond as we pray.
Let's all pray. Father thank You for Your word to us. Lord Jesus thank You for coming to this earth and walking among us and living a perfect life.
And then dying a perfect death. And rising again from the dead and now we pray for every person that is listening. If they don't know You personally Lord.
If they just know about You but they don't know You. Let this be the day when everything changes. In Jesus name I pray.
Amen. An important prayer from Pastor Greg Laurie. And if you know you need to make a change in your relationship with the Lord today. Pastor Greg will help you with that in just a moment before today's edition of A New Beginning wraps up. Well Pastor Greg you've just released your new book. Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus.
And we're making it available right now through A New Beginning. Yes. Let me ask you in researching and writing the book. Why do you suppose rock stars and for that matter celebrities of all different stripes. Why do they seem to self destruct so often? I think a lot of these folks are damaged goods. So many of them come from broken homes. So many of them come from horrible backgrounds.
Or they come from horrible poverty or something else. And they want to be noticed. They want their life to matter. They want their life to have meaning. And I think they're actually searching for fulfillment through fame and fortune. They're thinking if I could one day be famous. If I could one day live in a mansion.
If I could one day drive a Rolls Royce or a Ferrari or whatever it is. If I one day had people chanting my name that would bring happiness. And of course that's not true. And they climb to the top of the mountain and they find out there's nothing there. So I think many of them are really just on a search for the meaning of life. But they're born with a talent as a singer, as an actor, as a performer of some kind. And so many of them rocket quickly to the top. And that is like the worst thing that can happen when you don't have a support structure. To help you deal with all that adulation, fame and success. And all that money you make. I mean I know it's a cliche when we read the stories of these folks that just spend money like crazy. And they find themselves bankrupt and in trouble. Well they're not prepared for that kind of a life. They just like to sing or they like to perform or they like to do something else. And then they have this incredible success that can be absolutely, in many cases, devastating to them. But I think a lot of these guys are searching for peace and meaning.
Why are they here on this earth? It's just about this. Don't take the wrong course in life. Don't think that things will fill that void in your life. Or a career will do it. Or success will do it. Or sex will do it.
Or any other thing. What you really want, what you really need, is a relationship with Jesus Christ. And discover His plan for your life.
And get to know Him. And then you'll have that happiness and that peace that you've longed for throughout your entire life. Yeah, that's right. It's such a strong evangelism tool. And a fascinating group of many biographies of so many of the names we know well.
The subtitle is The Spiritual Biography of Rock and Roll. And we'd like to send you Pastor Greg's new book, Lennon, Dillon, Alice, and Jesus. It's our way of saying thank you for your investment in these daily studies. We're completely listener supported. We couldn't be here each day without the generosity of listeners like you.
So thank you for your partnership. And when you send your donation, be sure to ask for Lennon, Dillon, Alice, and Jesus. Call us at 1-800-821-3300. We're here around the clock to take your call. 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514.
Or go online to Harvest.org. Pastor Greg, if somebody listening right now knows that they need to ask the Lord to forgive them of their sins, could you help them with that right now? You know what, Dave? I'd love to do that. It's an amazing thing to me that over the years I've heard so many stories of people who have come to know Christ listening to this broadcast and they'll say things like, I prayed that prayer with you at the end of the program. One guy wrote me and said, I pulled my car over to the side of the road and prayed that prayer and Christ came into my life.
Just incredible. And I'd like to lead you in that same prayer. Look, I don't have some super special prayer. It's just a basic prayer.
Based on scriptural principles of what it means to believe in Jesus Christ. I mean if we want to get real technical, the only sinner's prayer, if you will, and we often call this prayer a sinner's prayer, the only real sinner's prayer in the Bible is a guy who just prayed, God be merciful to me a sinner. So I'm going to lead you in a prayer similar to that, but this is a prayer where you will be acknowledging your need for Jesus and putting your faith in him. So listen, if you want to go to heaven when you die, if you want to know that you are a child of God, if you want the Lord to forgive you of your sins, just pray these words if you would. Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner. And I'm sorry for my sin and I turn from that sin. But I know that you died on the cross of Calvary for my sin and rose again from the dead.
So forgive me, Lord. I choose to follow you from this moment forward. I want you to be my Savior.
I want you to be my friend. I want you to be my God. Thank you for hearing my prayer and answering my prayer. In Jesus' name, I ask this.
Amen. Now I want to help you start growing spiritually, so I have something to send you at no charge. It's my gift to you. It's called The New Believer's Packet. And in it is a copy of the New Testament in a very friendly, understandable translation called The New Living Translation. It also has some notes that I wrote, hundreds of notes actually that will encourage you in this commitment you've made. These notes will answer a lot of the questions you probably have right now.
And there's some other materials in this packet as well. So order your copy of The New Believer's Packet immediately. And thanks for giving me the opportunity to lead you in that prayer.
And I wanted to be the first to say to you, welcome to the family of God. Yeah, let me pass along our contact information so you can get that free New Believer's Growth Packet. Just call us at 1-800-821-3300. We're here 24-7 to take your call.
That's 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or go online to harvest.org and click on Know God. Well next time, Pastor Greg takes us into the fourth chapter of Daniel for an encouraging message called No One is Beyond the Reach of God. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. Every day, the day when life begins. A New Beginning is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. If this show has impacted your life, share your story, leave a review on your favorite podcast app, and help others find hope.
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