Join Grace for worship

Worship Theme: Love for those who confess the truth.

Sermon Theme: The God We Serve Is Able to Deliver Us

It was the boastful brag of a Babylonian big shot! You’ve got to be pretty full of yourself to build a statue - of yourself! And its next level arrogance then to make that statue 90 feet tall! And its exponential egotism to gather the people of your country and demand that they bow down to that statue –and therefore to you – in worship. And then are there even words for when you tell everyone that if they don’t bow down to worship you that you’ll through them into a blazing hot furnace?

And if you thought that statue was tall, it’s dwarfed by height of the haughtiness of King Nebuchadnezzar who actually had the nerve after doing all this to say: “Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

 In stark contrast to Nebuchadnezzar who was red hot with rage, the three men remained cool as cucumbers! The king’s question was rhetorical – but they answered it anyways: “Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” Calmly and faithfully, they replied: “Ours!” Their bold profession is the faithful proclamation that we too can make: The God We Serve is Able to Deliver Us!

 Even though they knew that their actions and their words would make Nebuchadnezzar fuming mad, still they acted and still they spoke. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, (they said) the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

 It was the pride of a Pope. The ego of an Emperor. They had decided that they had a stranglehold on the truth and wouldn’t be bullied by this up-and-coming professor from the new university in Saxony. They had the power and the influence over the people that they had worked so hard for. They weren’t going to give it up. They weren’t going to risk it all because some German ex-monk wanted to debate them! So, they flexed their muscles and made their threats. They threatened Martin Luther with excommunication and even death for the words that he spoke and the positions that he took. They put a ban on his head and called for his neck. “Who will be able to save him?” they asked. Martin Luther knew the answer. They asked him to recant – to take back what he had written. They asked him to lay down and to quietly fade into the darkness. But Luther was unwilling to fade and uninterested in taking his words back. He wasn’t going to lay down. Instead – he stood! Even in the face of the rage of the Church, even in the face of certain death, Martin Luther stood strong. It was at the Diet of Worms in 1521 that Luther stood up to Emperor Charles V as he spoke these famous words: Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason - I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other - my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. I can do no other! God help me. Amen."

 Martin Luther knew it! The faith of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego beat in his chest as well! He knew and he stood on the truth The God I Serve is Able to Deliver Me and even if he does not, still “Here I Stand” on the Word of God.

The temptations to wiggle out of a bold confession of faith didn’t stop on the Babylonian plain or at the feet of the Holy Roman Emperor in 1521. Those very same temptations reach us today. The devil’s lies are sounded into our ears and heart. “Just let your colleague bad mouth your God. You can talk to her about it later!” Or “You better just act like those around you, otherwise they are going to think that you are weird!” “Don’t bother inviting a neighbor to church with you. It’s just going to hurt your relationship with them.” “Don’t you dare talk to someone about sin. You know they will just expose the sins that you’ve been trying so hard to hide!”

God calls on us to stand up in so many little ways every single day, but we every day we choose the comfort of sitting down and remaining quiet and still. We look for the easy way out instead of looking for and walking on the right path that serves our God.

That’s a truth that we can’t ignore and that we can’t excuse away. The fact that we fail to live bold faith lives every day means that we deserve to be thrown into the fire. And the fire that we deserve burns hotter and harder than Nebuchadnezzar’s, we deserve the fires of hell. We deserve to be separated from God now and into eternity. For the times that we chose comfort instead of truth, we deserve to have comfort stripped away from us and to be thrown into the place where there is no end to the torture.

On our own we could never stand, never obey, never please God. On our own we could never earn anything besides death and hell. But we aren’t on our own. The three men acknowledged that the God they worshipped was on their side and that they wouldn’t be worshipping the giant statue. Luther recognized God’s presence and asked for God’s help as he made his bold confession and took his bold stand. And you and I don’t stand alone either: We never could, but The God We Serve is Able to Deliver Us.

 

Never has that been truer than in God’s plan to save us from our sin. We falter and fail each day. We are powerless to keep God’s law and hopeless to withstand God’s wrath. But Jesus is our power and our hope. The God We Serve is Able to Deliver Us. And it’s more than just knowing that he could. Generations of Old Testament believers lived knowing that he would, and they are in heaven through their faith in the promise. But we are saved by clinging to promises kept. We live confidently knowing the promise has indeed come true. Christ Jesus has satisfied God’s law for us. He has lived faithfully and boldly following his Father’s commands. He delivered us by surrendering his life for us. By becoming the sacrifice that we needed him to be. He bled so that our wounds could be healed. He died so that we could live! He rose so that we could stand next to an empty tomb one day, having been raised to a new and perfect life.

That’s what God has done. What he hasn’t done is told us that he would take the fires away. There will still be persecution in our lives. We’ll still have ailments – of body and of mind. There will be pressure to fit in and please people – people who are increasingly living their lives contrary to God’s Word. There will be people who treat us poorly because of the God that we follow. We’ll have to make sacrifices and will be called upon to pay the price to be a follower of Christ. But even in the midst of those tests and in the heat of those fires, we aren’t alone. The three men weren’t alone in the fire. “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

 God doesn’t leave us alone. In fact, he gets into the fire with us. He promises us his strength and protection. The God We Serve is Able to Deliver Us. He is bigger than whatever we are facing and loves us more than any ever could. Our God can do anything – he can move a mountain or walk on water or turn illness into health – if it’s his will. He’s with us in the fire. And he’s stronger than the fire. With Jesus with us in the fire, sin can’t singe us and the forces of this world are powerless to touch us. The God We Serve is Able to Deliver Us.

 

God never promised the three men that he would save them from Nebuchadnezzar’s flames. They knew that he could, but they were not promised how that ordeal would end. We aren’t assured that any given trial won’t be our last. Just because God can deliver us from cancer, doesn’t mean that he will! Just because God can cure our ailments doesn’t mean that every Christian will be perfectly healthy. Just because God can intervene to save us persecution doesn’t mean that is what he’s going to do. But he is with us in the fire! And he does promise us that he will never leave us or forsake us.

God never promised Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego that he would save them from the furnace, but they knew that he could. But they did know by faith that either way, a miracle was coming. Either God would give them mighty deliverance and spare them from the fate that Nebuchadnezzar threatened, or the flames would do what flames do, but God would still win! And there would still be a miracle as God would raise them to new life with him in glory. Either way they would live! What faith and confidence in the promises of God!

What a great way to live our lives! What a great boldness of faith, to be able to say in every difficult circumstance, “either way a miracle’s coming.” Either God will use his power to deliver me, or my deliverance will be eternal as he opens to me heaven’s gates. Either longer life here on earth or eternal life with him in glory! With that attitude in our hearts, we can face anything. Knowing that God won’t leave us alone and that he’s in the fire with us gives us the confidence to continue to put our trust in him. Knowing that The God We Serve is Able to Deliver Us means that we have nothing to fear. It’s true that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

What an inspiring truth comes from the mouth of the Babylonian King. After seeing the men’s faith and God’s power he proclaims: No other god can save in this way. No other god is as mighty, as wise, as wonderful, or as loving as our one and only true God. The Three Men Knew it. Martin Luther knew it! And we know it too! Rejoice and celebrate the fact that The God We Serve is Able to Deliver Us. Amen.

____

​Be sure to subscribe so as to not miss future worship services, and please consider sending financial gifts to support the ministry of Grace Lutheran Church:

Online Giving: http://www.gracedowntown.org/giving/
Giving By Mail: Make checks out to "Grace Lutheran Church," and send to:

Grace Lutheran Church
1209 N. Broadway
Milwaukee, WI 53202