Author Archives: Jerry Williams, PhD
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18 NKJV
As Christians, we all have faith (Rom. 12:3), but we don’t all have unshakable faith. We can sometimes find ourselves “in the fire.” The expression “in the fire” is an idiom that means that you’ve encountered a situation, test or trial that is extremely painful and unbearable; you’re facing a circumstance that threatens to consume you. In order not to be consumed and defeated, you need faith in the fire—an unshakable faith.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego refused to serve neither king Nebuchadnezzar’s false gods nor bow down to worship the gold mage that he set up. They stood on the Word of God as outlined in the first of God’s commandments ever given to Israel (Ex. 20:2-4). As a consequence, they were casted into a burning fiery furnace, literally. In the face of impending death and being consumed in the flames, they demonstrated their faith—unshakable faith (Dan. 3:16).
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego demonstrated, not an ordinary faith, but an unshakable faith. This strong kind of faith delivered these three Hebrews. Their response to the king showed that that there are three levels of unshakable faith. They said the following to the king: (1) “God is able to deliver us.” They had faith in the power of God (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 3:20); (2) further said, “[God] will deliver us from your hand, O king.” This evidences that they had faith in the promises of God (Ps. 34:17, 19); and, (3) moreover saying to the king, “But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image . . .“ This unquestionably proves that they had a deep faith in the character of God and His Word (Deut. 31:6, 8; Josh. 1:5; Heb. 13:5; Matt. 18:20).
Metaphorically, when you find yourself “in the fire”, just know that every fiery experience has a God-ordained purpose when you stand with unshakable faith (Rom. 8:28), regardless of the circumstance or situation—God is at work, and He will meet you in the midst of the fire just like He did with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego (Dan. 3:24-25).
Again, not only did their unshakable faith deliver them, it also converted a whole nation to the true God (Prov. 16:7). Unshakable faith is knowing that no matter what you’re facing—even in the midst of the fire—nothing is greater than God. Faith in the fire knows that God can do anything, and He will deliver you from all things including a premature death. God said, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you” (Isa. 43:2). Faith in the fire is unshakable faith!
Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. Psalm 130:2 NKJV
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14:34 NKJV
America is on fire, literally. Distraught and distressed people in Minneapolis, and others in the North, the South, East and West cities in America are protesting, rioting and looting, and burning and destroying businesses, crying out: “No justice no peace” in their frustrated—can’t take it no more—response to the nation’s systemic racism, which reared its ugly head again; most recently, in the police killing of an unarmed black man in Minnesota. While the nation burns, where is the church of God? Where are the voices of the “so-called Christians”, especially the white brothers and sisters? Jesus said that the church would be the salt of the earth, and the light of the world (Matt. 5:13, 14). It appears often that “the salt” has lost its savor” and “the light” doesn’t shine, especially in trying times as these.
It all began in the year 1619 when descendents of Africa was first brought to America against their will, and forced into the bondage of slavery, America’s original sin, and still the nation’s un-repented sin. This original sin of our country still stains deeply the soul of our nation until today. America must repent if it ever, truly, wants racial healing and international exceptionalism (2 Chron. 7:14). After 401 years here in America, including after the Emancipation Proclamation, the Reconstruction period; post-slavery amendments to the U.S. Constitution; and, after a vigorous, on-going and unrelenting civil rights movement, black Americans have at best achieved some integration in society, but not equality and equal justice under the law. It’s time for the true church of God to take a Biblical look at unsettling truths. Isn’t this what God requires “but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God”? (Mic. 6:8).
Let us never condone violence, looting, and the destruction of property, under no circumstances. But peaceful protest is a worthy and lawfully protected American value. Instead of injudiciously blaming the looters and the violent, take a prayerful moment and try to understand that the oppressed blacks of America are sick and tired of being sick and tired. How long must they wait for equality, police reform and a fair criminal justice system? How long? It’s high time for change to come. They have been waiting since the year 1619. The church of God is the one institution that can be the most effective catalyst for effecting positive racial change and justice in America (Matt. 16:18).
The riots across America are responses to the violence that people are forced to live with every day, i.e., violence that flows from oppression, poverty, injustice, and alienation. Dr. Martin Luther King once said: “A riot is the language of the unheard.” The church can’t afford to turn a deaf hear and turn a blind eye to the centuries-decades long problems that have been “swept under the rug.” It’s time for the church to pay attention and hear (Prov. 31:9), stand up and speak up!
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. James 4:10 NKJV
Most commonly speaking, an elevator is a cage or platform for conveying people or things from one level to another (Merriam-Webster). During my years as a corporate executive, I often needed to take an elevator to reach a floor of my office, in a high rise building The Scripture shows that God is our “spiritual Elevator.” He elevates us from one degree of glory to another when we humble ourselves under His mighty hand, and then He exalts us in due time above our circumstances and situations. Elevation happens when we cast all our cares upon Him, for He cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7). But without a heart of gratitude, we would never cast all our cares upon Him and be elevated.
We are admonished by Apostle Paul that “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18). Thanksgiving follows a grateful heart, and a truly grateful heart requires humility. It’s an attitude of gratitude that determines one’s spiritual altitude. Gratitude is a force, i.e., the energy that diverts the “bad air” of your circumstances down, and fuels the promised elevation—the lifting up in due time. God is the Elevator!
There is a difference between gratitude and thanksgiving. Gratitude precedes thanksgiving; it is a feeling of appreciation in your heart. Thanksgiving is the expression or manifestation of gratitude. The life of Moses is a good example of the relationship between humility, gratitude, thanksgiving (See. Num. 12:3; Ps. 90:12). A grateful heart is a humble heart; and gratitude and thanksgiving are choices we make daily. As an act of your will, you can choose to be grateful for what is, rather than being ungrateful for what is not. Don’t allow adverse circumstances, problems, and disappointments render the “elevator in the building of your life” to be out of order. Find something to be grateful for and offer thanks unto the Lord.
What happens when a building’s elevator is out and you desire to go to another level? You toil, strive, tire and get exhausted, and get weary climbing the stairwell, rather than humbling yourself in the sight of the Lord (1 Pet. 5:6). But Jesus said, “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11). Isn’t it better just to cast all of your care upon the Lord, for He cares for you? (1 Pet. 5:7). Carrying your anxieties, worries, stresses, and daily struggles by yourself shows that you have not trusted God fully, nor have you been grateful. Although you know God, you must glorify Him as your Elevator and be thankful, lest you become futile in your thoughts and foolish in your hearts (Rom. 1:21). “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift (elevate) you up (Text). God is your Elevator!
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3 NKJV
“The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?” (Prov. 18:14). Church hurt can an unbearable wound in your spirit. And, you know what hurts so bad? When a person in the church made you feel so special yesterday, makes you feel like you’re a nobody today. Ouch! Human instinct is fight or flight—usually flight is chosen. In stead of running to God in prayer, most broken-hearted people run from the church. When church hurts so badly. It hurts to leave, but sometimes it hurts more stay.
Why does church hurt occur among brothers and sisters of like precious faith? Well, every Christian isn’t in the place spiritually as some others in the church. Some believers are fragile and need to be handled with care—some are “babes” and some are more spiritual” (1 Cor. 3:1-2). There is—oftentimes—an insensitivity towards some and a spirit of superiority displayed towards others. Both dispositions can cause hurt when unwholesome words are spoken or irresponsible acts perpetrated against another believer. The tongue can bring healing as a tree of life, or deceitful and vicious words can crush one’s spirit (See Prov. 15:4).
Many in the church inflict hurt on others in the name of the Lord, claiming to “speak the truth in love” but speaking the truth in love results in personal growth and love never fails (Eph. 4:15; 1 Cor. 13:8). The irony of the Church and Christianity is that: the Church, figuratively speaking, is supposed to be a spiritual hospital and its members should be vessels of love and instruments of healing. Is this why, perhaps, the famous civil and human rights activist, Mahatma Gandhi, was quoted saying, “I like your Christ, but I don’t like your Christians.” We can do better and love one another rather than hurting each other, showing the world that we are Christ’s disciples (John 13:34-35).
There numerous causes of church hurt when the hurt is too much to bear: church splits, heresy, being openly embarrassed and humiliated, neglect of pastoral care, financial greed, and malicious gossip. rejection, sexual sin of a church leader, selfish ambition, legalism (manipulation and control), and false personal prophesies, etc. These are just a few examples of church hurt when it hurts so badly. It hurts you to leave the church, but sometimes it hurts more stay. What can you do? Pray! (Jas. 5:13).