Being a follower of Christ is an amazing experience. The realization that His shed blood covers all sin is truly the most loving gift of all time. Before you read on, please take time to pray and thank Jesus for His selfless act of redeeming love for you.
Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Did Jesus really mean to take up a literal cross? If need be, yes. He meant that just as men who were crucified and persecuted back then, we are to also live our lives worthy of the calling and accept all persecution that comes our way. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Rom 12:1) When we willingly lay our lives down for the cause of Christ, we are showing our loyalty and unwavering allegiance to our Savior. Have you ever been in a situation where you chose the easy road instead of being persecuted? I know I have before and I felt absolutely horrible later. So, how can we be absolutely sure that we can get through any situation while staying on the road less traveled? Phil 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” What better way to show this then to look at some great examples from the Bible. One quick note, the examples that I have chosen are all from the Old Testament, so Christ was not actually a human yet, but He was still alive with God in heaven. These men got their strength from God; the same God who made Himself a man through Christ.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Daniel chapter 3 tells of how these three men refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden idol. They already knew in advance the punishment they were going to have to go through; the fiery furnace. These men were true warriors of the faith. They responded to Nebuchadnezzar’s rage with, “If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Dan 3:17-18) Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego put all of their trust in God, even in the midst of their impending doom. The furnace was so hot that the men that threw them in the furnace died! Daniel’s three friends survived the furnace untouched through the help of someone with the likeness of “a son of the gods.” (Dan 3:25) Some scholars actually believe that this was a physical appearance of Christ before His incarnation (a Christophany).
The story of Daniel and the lions’ den is found in Daniel chapter 6. Daniel stayed true and loyal to God by praying 3 times a day to Him, even when it was forbidden. The king was forced to throw Daniel into the den of lions, but Daniel’s faith was solid. God saved Daniel by sending an angel to shut the mouths of the lions throughout the entire night. Daniel walked out of the den the next morning untouched.
Moses was very obedient to the Lord. With God’s strength, Moses went to Pharaoh on 10 occasions to tell him of plagues that would come upon the land of Egypt if Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go. Can you imagine how stressful it must have been to speak to the leader of a nation just as Moses did? Moses was able to do so because of God. All 10 times, God followed through with the plagues He promised. Moses led 600,000 men, besides women and children, out of Egypt and into freedom. This included leading them all through the parted waters of the Red Sea. With faith and trust in God, Moses succeeded. The plagues are recorded in Exodus chapters 7-12 and the crossing of the Red Sea can be found in Exodus chapter 14.
The story of David and Goliath is recorded in 1 Samuel 17. Goliath was no ordinary man. He stood 9’9” tall! His shield covered his entire body. Most of his armor was made of bronze. His coat of mail, alone, weighed 125lbs. Goliath was built like a Mack truck and his strength was astounding. It is easy to see why he stood out “for forty days…morning and evening” (1 Sam 17:16) with no one to accept his challenge. “All of the men of Israel, when they saw the man, (Goliath) fled from him and were much afraid.” (1 Sam 17:24) David showed absolute courage in offering his life to fight this giant. He showed no fear as he said to Saul, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Sam 17:37) David then went out and defeated Goliath with a slingshot. It would take a “man after God’s own heart” to be brave enough to challenge such a formidable opponent. With God’s hand, David prevailed.
These are only a few of the amazing stories of true heroes of the Bible. All of these men prevailed because they received their strength from the Lord. Even though Philippians was not written yet for any of these men, they still believed in Philippians 4:13. They knew that through God, they could do all things because He provides strength. So, whenever the storms of life head your way, think about these men. Think about how Christ, himself, will provide you with the strength to make it through. God bless you as you continue your walk with Him.
By Derek Hill