Meet Catherine Rhor- Founder of “Prison Entrepreneurship Program.” Catherine was making over $200,000 a year in business at age 27 when God called her to do something else. Check out this short video of her telling her story.
Meet Blake Mycoskie- Founder of the “Toms” shoes line that has donate over 400,000 shoes to children in need. In 2006 an American traveler, Blake Mycoskie, befriended children in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by caring TOMS customers. Watch this short video about a shoe drop in Argentina.
There is something that both Blake and Catherine have in common; they are living their life for a cause that they just can’t let go! They’ve been moved for a people group and God is using them to help men and women, boys and girls all around the world. They went all in for the cause, willing to give up everything for the cause.
If you are a believer, God has called you to a cause as well. We just finished a series about God’s purpose in creation. Now we are going to look at a few men and women in Scripture who went all in for God.
Tonight I hope that God will open your eyes to the great cause that He has placed before you. Our one focus for tonight is this, “What does it mean to go all in?” I believe that the simple answer is to place all your trust in God in the moments that it really counts.
Life is filled with moments, good and bad, but moments to say the least. These moments are the ones that shape the very facet of our lives. These moments change who we are and lead us forward into uncharted territory. Tonight we are going to take the 1st step in finding trust in God when it really matters.
The Book of Daniel
Turn into your Bible to the book of Daniel, chapter 1. We will start here.
Daniel 1: 1-2
“During the third year of King Jehoiakim’s reign in Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. The Lord gave him victory over King Jehoiakim of Judah and permitted him to take some of the sacred objects from the Temple of God. So Nebuchadnezzar took them back to the land of Babylonia and place them in the treasure-house of his god.”
God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to take over Judah and take the sacred objects from the Temple. Nebuchadnezzar just symbolically took Judah’s God away from them.
“Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief of staff, to bring to the palace some of the young men of Judah’s royal family and other noble families, who had been brought to Babylon as captives. ‘Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking young men,’ he said. ‘Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning, are gifted with knowledge and good judgment, and are suited to serve in the royal palace. Train these young men in the language and literature of Babylon.’ The king assigned them a daily ration of food and wine from his own kitchens. They were to be trained for three years, and then they would enter the royal service.”
The men were taken from their families and placed into a glorified internship program for three years. They received the best food and drink the king had to offer during the preparation stage, before they were given royal service.
“Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were four of the young men chosen, all from the tribe of Judah. The chief of staff renamed them with these Babylonian names:
Daniel was called Belteshazzar.
Hananiah was called Shadrach.
Mishael was called Meshach.
Azariah was called Abednego.”
Their names were stripped from them. Up to this point things may not seem that bad, they get fed well, chill in the palace, and get to read all day; but let’s not remember that they were taken from their homes, never to return, taken from their families, and stripped of their faith. The King is now stripping them of their given names. Let’s look very quickly at what their names meant.
1) Hananiah meant “The Lord is Gracious.”
Shadrach meant “Under Acu the moon god.”
2) Mishael meant “Who is like God.”
Meshach meant “Who is like Acu the moon god.”
3) Azariah meant “The Lord is my help and strength.”
Abednego meant “The servant of Nebo” the second god of Babylon.
In the Jewish culture, having your named changed would be like stripping someone of their position in life.
I must stop here for a second…
Many of you have had you identity stolen in a very similar way. Low expectations, cruel people, and cultural norms have taken your Godly position away from you.
David no longer means “loved” but hated, Abigail no longer means “source of joy” but person of sorrow, Nathanial no longer means “given by God” but despised child.
My name was stripped from me as a child. Chris means “Christ-like.” I fell into the trap of not being very Christ-like when I was your age. I fell into the expectation of sexual immorality. With that, I did not seek the boldness of Christ for truth, but fell deep into self pity and low self-esteem, even though the God of the universe made me and called me by name. I felt worthless and hated by everyone, which in turn caused be to be worthless and not very liked.
God has called you by name and has given your life meaning and purpose! Please hear me when I say this: Do not listen to those people around you who seek to tear you down and belittle you! You are beautiful in the sight of God!
Back to the story…
God protected these four young men… Daniel 1:17
“God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom. And God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meaning of visions and dreams.”
God protected them from the King’s brainwashing and delivered them into very high ranking in the King’s service. But the story is not over… Let’s jump ahead a couple of pages to chapter 3 starting in verse 1.
“King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Then he sent messages to the high officers, officials, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the provincial officials to come to the dedication of the statue he had set up. So all these officials came and stood before the statue King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.”
The King called all of the important, representatives of the kingdom together to worship the golden idol. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would have been part of these officials.
“Then a herald shouted out, ‘People of all races and nations and languages, listen to the king’s command! When you hear the sound of the instruments, bow to the ground to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue. Anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.’ So at the sound of the musical instruments, all the people, whatever their race or nation or language, bowed to the ground and worshiped the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.”
So the King ordered everyone to worship the golden statue or they would be burned alive. What would you do?
“But some of the astrologers went to the king and informed on the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, ‘Long live the king! You issued a decree requiring all the people to bow down and worship the gold statue when they hear the sound of the instruments. That decree also states that those who refuse to obey must be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego- whom you have put in charge of the province of Babylon. They pay no attention to you, your majesty. They refuse to serve your gods and do not worship the gold statue you have set up.’”
Don’t you just hate tattle-tails!? I couldn’t stand those kids in elementary school. They would sit there and look around for someone breaking the rules and run to the teacher to tattle… That exactly what just went down… let’s see what the King’s response is…
“Then Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought before him. When they were brought in, Nebuchadnezzar said to them, ‘Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue from my power?’”
The King was really angry! He called the three men into his throne room and interrogated them. By this point the three men are no longer in front of all the people outside worshiping the statue, so no one is there to see them but the King. So the King asks them again to worship the statue or die, but what they did surprised me. I mean, they are not in front of everyone anymore. No one would see them bow to the statue. They made their point to everyone… let’s look at their response to the Kings threats.
Daniel 3: 16-18
“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, we want to make it clear to you, your majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.’”
Wow! They stuck it to him, if you ask me. They stood their ground because their faith was real. I noticed something about this passage that I really want to point out. 1st was they said “if we are thrown in” their faith was so strong even to the point of not believing that God would allow them to be thrown into the furnace. But after that they said “but even if he doesn’t [save us], we will never worship your gods…” Wow what a testimony! Their faith stood the challenge! They did not back down! They lived for the Cause! They lived for the moment that changed everything!
Ok, Ok… you may be thinking that nothing like that would happen here to me, but let me remind you of a little girl who died in a school shooting because she wouldn’t back down from her faith. Her faith was so real to her that she was willing to die for it.
The girls name was Rachel Scott and she was a student at Columbine High School. This was one of those moments that changed everything. Not just Rachel’s life but the way we do school in the US.
Rachel was staring down the barrel of a loaded hand gun and asked the question “Are you a believer in Jesus Christ?” She had the choice to back down and denounce her faith. I would have not judged her for it, I don’t believe that her church family would have, I don’t believe her now daughterless father would have, and most of all, I don’t believe that God would have been agree at her; but she held to the belief that Christ was the answer.
Rachel Scott died that day because she refused to reject the name of Jesus Christ in her life. Don’t hesitate to think that what happened to these 3 men in Daniel couldn’t happen to you!
Let’s look back at something before we close. Look back at verses 15 and 17…
Nebuchadnezzar asked a question, “But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?” The men responded with, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us.”
God is able no matter the situation. God works things out for good in all situations. For Catherine and Blake, God blessed them and started a ministry because of their faithfulness. For Rachel Scott, God still blessed her, but called her home because of her faithfulness and because of her story of faith has lead thousands to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Living for a cause will cost you, the road will be hard; but God be the glory! God has placed me here before you tonight to remind you, let you know, that He has made you with a purpose. That He loves you dearly. And that following Him will most definitely cost you something, but the reward that comes from following Him will be like no other. The reward will be great. The reward is Him!
I love you all and have been in deep prayer for revival to break loose, for a movement inspired by God Himself to begin in this city. Movements happen among people but are started by God. For some of you I have attempted to spur you along in the movement for Christ. For some of you, I believe that God has been calling you to something great for a long time and you have not been listening. For some of you I believe you are at the point of “what’s next Jesus?” and desire to run the race. If you are ready to do some Hard things for Christ and rebel against some low expectations then join me in starting a movement in our city! If not don’t get in the way, but be prepare to see God do the impossible!