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Staying Cool When Things Get Hot | Modern Day Idol Worship

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
June 22, 2022 3:00 am

Staying Cool When Things Get Hot | Modern Day Idol Worship

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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June 22, 2022 3:00 am

In biblical times, idol worship was a real problem. Good thing those days are over, right? Well, wait a minute. Whatever captures more of our attention than God does may be modern-day idol worship . . . the TV, our smartphone, pleasure. Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie brings some important perspective. We’ll see three Hebrew teens faced a fiery trial that helped develop their faith and character . . . and it was idol worship that set the stage.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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Hey everybody, you're listening to A New Beginning, which is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners.

If this program has impacted you, I'd love to hear from you. So just send an email to me at gregg.harvest.org. Again, it's gregg.harvest.org.

You can learn more about becoming a Harvest Partner by going to harvest.org. What do you worship? Is there someone or something that captures a lot of your attention? Pastor Greg Laurie says that could be a form of worship. Everybody worships. Christians worship, agnostics worship, atheists worship. I did not say we all worship God, but we all worship something. And whatever you bow before will end up being the God that you serve. Be careful, because one moment at the altar can lead to a lifetime of regret. In biblical times, idol worship was a real problem. Good thing those days are over, right?

Well, wait a minute. Whatever captures more of our attention than God does may be modern day idol worship. The TV, our smartphone, pleasure. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie brings some important perspective. We'll see three Hebrew teens faced a fiery trial that helped develop their faith and character.

And it was idol worship that set the stage. Let's grab our Bibles now. We are going to turn to Daniel chapter 3 and James chapter 1. Daniel 3 and James chapter 1. We are in our new series that we are calling End of Days from the book of Daniel.

And the title of my message today is Staying Cool When Things Get Hot. Let's pray. Father, I know there are some people here right now that are going through a time of trial, hardship.

And there are other people here, Lord, that aren't going through it yet, but they will be soon. And Your Word has so much to say about this. I pray that we will be strengthened, that we will be comforted, that we will be reminded that we are not alone in our trials and difficulties. So speak to us from Your Word as we look at it now. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Again the title of my message is Staying Cool When Things Get Hot. And some of you might be going through a fiery trial right now. It is interesting the Bible uses that phrase fiery trial. There are trials and then there are fiery trials.

A little bit worse. 1 Peter 4 says, Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trial you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Be happy if you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God will come upon you. God allows different kinds of trials and testings to come to the life of the Christian.

You might want to write this down. The devil tempts you to destroy your faith. Again the devil tempts you to destroy your faith. In contrast God tests you to develop your faith. So the devil will tempt you to destroy your faith. God will test you to develop your faith. But remember a faith that cannot be tested is a faith that cannot be trusted. And I bring that up because sometimes people will have something bad happen in life. And it might be a tragedy.

It might be their parents divorced or a loved one died or they were fired from a job or they got very sick or something happened and it might be a pretty big deal. And they will say, You know what? I lost my faith through that. I just lost my faith.

Well you know what? Good. Get rid of that faith. Because the faith that cannot be tested is a faith that cannot be trusted. Real faith in a real God will not grow weaker through difficulty.

It will only get stronger you see. And that is the kind of faith we all need as Christians because fiery trials will come our way. And in the case of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that was not metaphorical.

That was literal. And there is going to be times in our lives where our faith will be tested. People are going to challenge what we believe. There will be temptations to do the wrong thing.

And we might wonder well wow if that happens will I have the strength to stand spiritually when that day comes. And here is my answer. That is entirely up to you. You might say, No that is up to God. No actually that is up to you.

Now know this. God won't give you more than you can handle. He won't put you in a situation where there is not either a way out or a way through. Having said that will you stand on that day?

That is up to you. And that comes down to choices that you make. See here is the story Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who wouldn't babble for a golden image but you see they laid the foundation to have that strength in their life much earlier when you remember they were taken into captivity by the Babylonians and they were hand chosen to be in the palace of the king and serve as counselors.

And if they did a good job they would get promoted. And one of the first tests was would they sit at the king's table and eat. All the awesome food of Babylon was on that table. And yet we read Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and their buddy Daniel would not eat of the food of the king's table. We don't know why. Maybe it is because the food was just bad. There is that.

But I doubt it. Maybe it is because the food was unclean under Mosaic law. More likely the food was offered to idols and they didn't want to eat food that was dedicated to false gods. Whatever the case they made a principled stand. And of course you remember that they said to the guy in charge of the king's food, hey we are going to just eat vegetables while you guys eat all that fine food and we will be just fine at the end. You will see.

And he goes, please don't get sick or I am going to lose my head. Ok. Well they came through the test very well and actually they were stronger than everybody who had been eating at the king's table reminding us that whatever we give up for Christ will be more than made up for later. So they were exalted. They were elevated.

They were promoted. Well one night Nebuchadnezzar has a crazy dream. Probably too much pepperoni on his pizza. By the way I put that theory to the test.

It is true. I had a piece of pizza with pepperoni and I had the craziest dreams ever. But I don't think these were pepperoni dreams. This was a dream given to him by God. And in this dream 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 then 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, why? 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. And 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 this 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 is erected a 90 foot statue of himself covered in gold. You could see it from miles away. This gleaming gold statue of the king.

He sort of missed the point of the whole image which was to show that one day his kingdom would be overthrown by the Medo-Persians and they would be overthrown by the Greeks etc. All he heard was head of gold. Why not have a whole statue of gold? And while we are at it let's make this statue of me. Right?

It was the ultimate selfie. There it was. And then he said ok and I want everybody to fall down and worship this image. It was the number one show on Babylonian TV. It was called Babylonian Idol.

There were three judges. And you would sing a song. No wrong show. No but it was similar to American Idol in as far as music was involved.

When the band cranked up the Idol theme song. You better bow or you're going to be dead. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. At Harvest Ministries we hear from people all around the country and in places that are sometimes hard to reach. Dear Pastor Greg, we live out in the wilds of Idaho but are able to enjoy your Harvest at Home broadcast. We call it our home church away and our 13 year old son even gave his heart to Jesus while watching Harvest at Home. Praise the Lord and blessings to you. It's so great to know that the Harvest at Home broadcast has impacted this family in this way.

Do you have a story to tell? If so would you let Pastor Greg know? Just drop him an email. Greg at Harvest dot org.

Again that's Greg at Harvest dot org. And now Pastor Greg continues his message from Daniel chapter 3 called Staying Cool When Things Get Hot. And so here now are all these people gathered before this image and some commentators think there were as many as 300,000 people there.

Think of that. 300,000 people in front of a 90 foot gold statue gleaming in the sun. And there were probably many Jews there because they were taken into Babylon and apparently they bowed. So the band strikes up the song.

Everyone is bowing before the massive gold statue and standing out like three sore thumbs. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They are teenagers. They have got black leather motorcycle jackets on. Sunglasses. Hands in their pockets. No I made that part up.

But you get the idea. They stood out. They were true rebels in the best sense of that phrase. There was no way they were going to bow. Now here is the funny thing.

Not funny but sad thing really. They were ratted out by the king's advisers. Don't you hate people that rat you out? Tattletales.

You know snitches. And the irony is after Daniel correctly interpreted the king's dream he said spare the lives of these other counselors. He could have said they are all frauds. Kill them. He let them live. And these are the very guys that rat him out.

King. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego aren't bowing. And by the way we don't know where Daniel was. He does not appear in chapter 3. Maybe he was away on a trip of some kind.

So he is not in this narrative. So they are ratted out. And the king says, well I know these kids. They will bow. I will give them another chance.

Bring them in to see me. That picks up our story. Daniel 3 starting in verse 14. I am reading from the New Living Translation. Nebuchadnezzar said to them, is it true Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that you refuse to serve my gods or worship the gold statue I have set up?

I will give you one more chance. And if you bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments all will be well. But if you refuse you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And notice now how Nebuchadnezzar effectively chooses off God. He challenges God to a fight. He says, what god will be able to rescue you from my power then? Verse 16.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, your majesty. But even if He doesn't, your majesty can be sure we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up. It is never a good idea to challenge God to a fight.

You know why? You are going to lose. Sometimes people say, I have been wrestling with God in prayer. Wrestling with God.

Wrestling. Really? I hope you are losing. Because God's ideas are better than your ideas. Jacob wrestled with God and lost. And that is a good thing. He went from fighting to trusting.

From resisting to resting. And sometimes we are fighting with God. People say, I am mad at God.

Really? How dare you say you are mad at God. Who are you to say you are mad at God. You can say, I don't understand God. I don't like the situation I am in right now.

I wish it were different. But don't say, I am mad at God. Shall the thing that has been formed by God say to the one who made Him or her, why don't you make me this way the Bible asks. No. Don't be mad at God.

Trust God. And Nebuchadnezzar was saying, I am Nebuchadnezzar man. I rule Babylon. We are the most powerful kingdom on the face of the earth.

I have got a gold statue to prove it. Yeah. Things are going to change in one chapter as we will see in our next message from Daniel as Nebuchadnezzar is laid low. I want you to notice how many times the word worship is used in the narrative. How many times Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were told to worship. It was worship.

It wasn't just a mere act. It was actual worship before an image. And there is no way Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are going to worship a gold image. They wouldn't even eat food at the king's table offered to idols. You think they are going to bow down before a false god.

No way. And by the way the Scripture told them clearly that they were never to do that. They were never to have any other gods before Him.

But this reminds us of something that is very important. The reason they wouldn't bow down was because they knew that you will end up serving what you worship. You will end up serving what you worship. Remember when Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time in the temptation in the wilderness. The devil said, all of these kingdoms are mine and I can give them to whomever I wish and all will be yours if you will just worship me. And what did Jesus say? Thou shall worship the Lord God in Him only show you serve.

Wait. The devil didn't say anything about service. He said worship. No. But Jesus understood you will end up serving what you worship.

Listen. Everybody worships. Everybody worships. Republicans worship. Democrats worship.

Even libertarians worship. Atheists worship. Agnostics worship. Christians worship. My point is everybody worships. I did not say we all worship God. But we all worship something.

We all bow before some kind of god and whatever you bow before will end up being the god that you serve. Be careful because one moment at the altar of sexual promiscuity can lead to a lifetime of regret. You know we will just do it one time.

We will never do it again. Just one time. And then that one time leads to a venereal disease. An STD. An unwanted pregnancy. We will just terminate the pregnancy. That is also called murdering an unborn child.

I hope you don't do that. Ok. Well we will carry the child to term and we will put the child up for adoption. Good.

That is a good decision under the circumstances. But the point is one decision can lead to a lifetime of regret. And then you start living in the world of chasing after all the sexual things of today and pretty soon you are not satisfied with what you are doing. Well let's explore this new thing. Let's try this other thing.

What else can we do? And with all the pornography and junk out there that promotes this kind of agenda people get themselves into all kinds of trouble. It started with one thing and it turned into another.

Careful what altar you bow down to. A moment at the altar of drugs can lead to a lifetime of addiction. And for many it starts with marijuana. I think we should legalize marijuana. It is very good for the economy. And it has medicinal purposes.

Oh is that what it is all about? Medicinal purposes. Now maybe there are some situations where it could be of help to certain people. But by and large this has opened the floodgates up to people having access to pot like never before.

And I can tell you from personal experience as a stupid pot smoking kid for about three years of my life it is going to lead to things that are far worse. You don't want to go down that road. But it starts oh it is ok. It is innocent. Or a moment at the altar of drinking. I will just have a little drink. A small drink. The drink is only this big you see. It is ok. And then a little bit more and a little bit more and a little bit more. In a way I wake up one day. How did I become an alcoholic?

When did this happen? See my point is it starts small and it always gets big. So draw the line right now and say I am going to make a stand in the small things. Then I will have the strength to make the stand in the big things that will come later. That is what Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did. They took their stand for what was right. Good encouragement today here on A New Beginning from Pastor Greg Laurie and our study of the fiery trials faced by Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. There is more to come in this message called Staying Cool When Things Get Hot. Have you checked out Pastor Greg's new book, Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus?

You can get the details right now at harvest.org. It is a look at the lives of so many rock and roll icons whose lives went from the top to the bottom and often to despair at lightning speed. It is an important cautionary tale. Pastor Greg, what are you hoping the reader takes away from this book, again called Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus? I hope they take away this simple thought. No one is beyond the reach of God. I don't care how famous they are.

I don't care how powerful they are or what they have accomplished. Everyone needs Jesus. There is something to keep in mind. Everybody is empty. The Bible says that the creation was made subject to emptiness. That is King James 4. There is sort of a hole in our life.

The Bible says God has put eternity in our hearts, which means we are on a search for God. Listen, you may see a person drive by in a Rolls Royce. They are empty.

Another person drives by in a Prius. They are empty. One person has a beautiful home. They are empty.

Someone has a simple little shack they live in. They are empty. Everybody is empty. Number two, everybody is lonely. No matter how many fans you have or how many friends you think you have or how many followers you have on social media, you are lonely. And really there is a loneliness in your heart for God Himself. Thirdly, everyone is afraid to die. Oh, I know some people say, oh, I am looking forward to dying.

No, they are not. They are afraid to die. And lastly, I would say everybody just needs Jesus.

So rock stars, movie stars, billionaires, unknown people, people that can't play two chords and a guitar, everybody needs Jesus. So this book shows that those who have been there and done that and bought the t-shirt have still found that is not the answer. And some of them made wrong decisions and reaped the consequences.

Some of them made right decisions and got on the road that leads to life and started following Jesus Christ. So my hope is when you read this book, you will say, this gives me hope for my son or daughter. This gives me hope for my husband or wife. This gives me hope for that crazy neighbor.

That is always giving me a hard time. Oh, this gives me hope for my boss or my coworker or my friends from my past. But also I would encourage you, this would be a great book after you have read it, to share with someone that is not yet a believer. At the end of the book, as always, I present the gospel and I even have a prayer that a person can pray to accept Jesus Christ. Yes, such an important tool in sharing the hope of Christ.

You know, the Great Commission was given to all of us, not just pastors. And if there's someone in your circle of influence who needs hope, well, we hope you'll share a copy of this book with them. Again, it's called Lennon, Dillon, Alice, and Jesus. The subtitle is The Spiritual Biography of Rock and Roll, and we're sending it to say thank you for your partnership. We couldn't be here each day without the partnership of our listeners. We're fully listener supported, so thank you so much for your generosity.

And with your donation, we hope you'll ask for Lennon, Dillon, Alice, and Jesus. You can call us at 1-800-821-3300. We're here around the clock to take your call.

That's 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California, 92514. Or go online to harvest.org. I don't know if you know about this, but we have a weekend service called Harvest at Home exclusively for people that are tuning in literally from around the world.

Listen to us. We even have Harvest groups where you can get into a small group with folks from all around this planet of ours and study the Word of God. So join us this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, for Harvest at Home at harvest.org. Well next time, more from our study in Daniel chapter 3 of The Fiery Trial and Three Strong Hebrew Teens. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie. The preceding podcast was made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Learn how to become a Harvest Partner, sign up for daily devotions, and find resources to help you grow in your faith at harvest.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-30 12:26:50 / 2023-03-30 12:36:27 / 10

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