Dr. Tony Evans is the founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, founder and president of The Urban Alternative and author of over 100 books, booklets and Bible studies. The first African American to earn a doctorate of theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, he has been named one of the 12 Most Effective Preachers in the English-Speaking World by Baylor University. Dr. Evans holds the honor of writing and publishing the first full-Bible commentary and study Bible by an African American. His radio broadcast, The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, can be heard on over 1,400 radio outlets daily and in more than 130 countries. Dr. Evans’ sermons are also streamed and downloaded over 20,000,000 times annually.









today i want to look at

encountering god’s promotion

a promotion is when you are lifted from

one level to another level

many of you know what it is to be

promoted in your job

or to be promoted in your experience or

to be promoted

from the from the jv to the varsity team

to go through things that lift you to a


level in our

story today from daniel chapter three

a promotion is going to take place

meshach shadrach and the biblical they

are going to experience

a promotion but it will not come

without a trial they’re going to

encounter god

in a bad situation

now some of the things i am going to say

from this passage

will not feel right and will not be


but that’s okay because the more

uncomfortable it is

the better possibility for a divine


let’s start with the backdrop of the


meshach shadrach and abindigo find


working in a secular culture

they’re in babylon babylon

is an evil pagan and idolatrous country

because of israel’s sin god told babylon


invade israel and they brought out

many of the young people back

into babylon to live

and to work daniel

along with the three hebrew boys are

part of the group that was bought from


to babylon and now they have to

live their life and do their work in a


environment many of you tomorrow

will go to work in a pagan environment

where the people you work for and the

people you work with

do not share your christian world view

they do not believe what you believe

they do not act like you act they do not

walk like you walk

they do not talk like you talk but

that’s the world you live in

because you have to provide for yourself

for your family

and you will find yourself in an


environment that was the three

hebrew boys they found themselves

working for the federal government

because they were administrators in the

regime of nebuchadnezzar

who was the governing head of babylon so

they were government

employees working for a pagan

government they were sent to a

babylonian school

it says in chapter one it says that they


indoctrinated with babylonian thinking

it says they were even given a

babylonian name

after the name of a babylonian god

so the culture was trying to

de-israelize them

and probably them trying to take their

mindset from the rearing of their faith

to the raising of the culture

and so you and i like the three hebrew


are caught in a cultural tension

how we were raised and what we’re taught

to believe

and where we have to live and earn our


where we have to live and function and

or the people we have to be around


that’s the nature of the job in which

we’re situated

how do you be christian when

the environment you’re in doesn’t

support your christianity

so that’s the situation that’s the


that they find themselves in

well something happens in the beginning

of the chapter chapter three

nebuchadnezzar the head of babylon

develops a theo ego

theo is god ego is is your mindset

he he developed a a god

mentality he deified himself

it goes on to say in the first nine

verses you’ll see seven

times discussion about this image he

built to himself

he builds a statue to honor him

90 feet tall and nine feet wide

he not only builds a statue

he comes up with a law the law

says that everybody is supposed to bow

to the statue of nebuchadnezzar

he calls all of his leaders together and

he says i want you

to all to bow and then he gives a

warning in verse six

whoever does not fall down and worship

shall immediately be cast into the midst

of a furnace of blazing fire okay watch


now the issue balls around one thing

who you gonna worship it says he built a


and he says you are to worship before

the statue

at the heart of the bible from genesis

to revelation

is this issue of idolatry

let me for those who may not remember

the definition of an

idol an idol is any noun person place

thing or thought that becomes your


so any person place thing or thought

that becomes your source

has now become your god anything that


with the god of the bible as the thing

you ultimately look to

as your source is your god rather no

matter whether you

call it your god or not you and i live

in a culture that not only wants

our work they want our worship because


often ask us to compromise biblical


in order to be accepted or in order to

be promoted

so shadrach meshach and abednego found


in a dilemma and their career was on the


while all of this is taking place

racism reared its ugly head

a racial dilemma takes place

because verse 8 says for this reason at

that time

certain chaldeans came forth and brought


against the jews so some babylonians

brought charges against the jews they

liked the jews

they didn’t want the jews working at the

company and the reason they didn’t like

the jews is one they were jewish

and two they brought their faith to work

see they knew they were followers of god

so let me ask you a question if you were

accused of being a christian on your job

would there be enough evidence to

convict you

or would you be found innocent of all


because your faith is very vague

you know it but nobody else does

they were clearly followers of god and

they were jewish

they could not condemn them because of

their work so they had to condemn them

because of their faith

so these three hebrew boys find

themselves on

a dilemma because now the babylonians

who work with them their co-workers

come and say and play politics you know

how politics is in the office

they come and play politics they said oh

oh nebuchadnezzar

you got these jewish guys here and they

won’t bow

oh they come to work they do their job

but you told them to bow to the company

and they’re not bowing to the company

they’re not submitting to the authority

of the company

so nebuchadnezzar when he finds out this

minority group would not bow

he said bring them here verse 13.

bring me shadrach and then they go here

and in verses 14 and 15 he says i’m

going to give you all another chance

and then he asked the question

if you don’t bow verse 15

if you do not worship you will

immediately be cast into the midst of a

furnace of blazing fire

and what god is there who can deliver


out of my hands now that’s the question

the question is i’m so powerful

this company is so strong this


is so much in control that if i fire you

you will be fired

and you don’t know anybody who can

overrule my decision

because i’m the man shadrach meshach and


responded to the king okay see i don’t

know if you caught that

shadrach meshach and abednego responded

to the king

so they either all talked at the same

time or one talk for all three because

it says all three responded

that’s why you need to hook up with some

other christians in your company

so that you’re not standing there alone

okay so they responded to the king


we do not need to give you an answer

concerning this matter

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let us answer you if so

be our god whom we serve is able to

deliver us

you are to look at your occupation as

service to the lord

through the vehicle of that company it

is the lord christ

whom you serve so they say we may work

for you

but we serve the lord the god who we


is able the god who we serve because

that’s what got him in trouble in the

first place

their co-workers knew that they served

the lord

in their job description but most

christians many christians divorce

their everyday work from their service

of god

and these three boys didn’t but because


serve him the god who we serve

is able to deliver us

but let’s hear the rest of the story

even if he does not

because there are two things you need to

know about god he’s powerful

so he’s able but he’s sovereign

so he can choose god

must have the option in any situation

to choose what the right thing is to do

at that moment

and sometimes he does not

and you need a theology that covers when

he doesn’t because if you don’t have a

theology that covers when he doesn’t

then you’re going to be mad at him when

he doesn’t because somebody told you

from the pulpit

he’s able so you got to keep both

intention and about both you must say

the same thing

because they say even if he does not let

it be known to you

okay we respect you we’re going to work

for you

we are not going to serve your

gods or worship the golden image

that you have set up because it says in

verse 19

then nebuchadnezzar was filled with


filled with wrath and his facial

expression was altered

it’s just he’s contorted his control

who do you think you talking to i don’t

care that you said it respectfully

do you know who i am

guess what he does he is so hot no pun


he is so hot he gave orders in verse 18

to heat the furnace seven times more

than it was already heated this is like

your boss saying to you

look if you don’t do this

not only will i fire you i will see that

you never work

in this kind of business ever again

i’m the man you talking about you knock

on bow

because you got some other spiritual


so the men who brought them to the

furnace the furnace was so hot it

burned them up the bible says the men

who brought them got burned up that’s

how hot it was

they tied them up

in verse 23 and threw them into the

midst of the furnace

still tied up so they tied up their

hands tied up their feet

and threw them in

god didn’t deliver them from the furnace

he let him get fired

but something happens

verse 24 then nebuchadnezzar the king


astounded and he stood up in haste

he said to his high officials

was it not three men we cast bound into

the midst of the fire come on now help

me with my math wasn’t it one

two three meshech shadrach and bendy go

they replied to the king well certainly

king we put three guys in there

he said well come here come here come

come here

look through this glass look verse 25

i see four men

loosed and walking around in the midst

of the fire

without harm and the appearance of the


is like a son of the gods

i can see that you could preach right


he says we put in three right

yeah we put in three well how come

and we tied them up right we tied them

up okay

well why am i seeing four

so so if we put in three why four

and how they walking around when we tied

them up

no nobody burned nobody okay watch this

sometimes when god wants to give you an

encounter with him

sometimes he takes you out of it

sometimes he delivers you from it

sometimes you don’t have to worry about

it but sometimes

he wants to take you through it or

join you in it not deliver you from it

sometimes he wants you to see what it’s


when you’re in the fire and not being

burned by the fire

you’re in the bad situation at work and

he’s working right beside you

he says i see four and the fourth one

i see looks like somebody straight from


sometimes heaven wants to join you

in a bad situation without

taking you out of it he just gonna join

you in it

but whether he takes you from it or

joins you in it you have an

encounter with the living god because

you’re supposed to be all

shook up all tied up all screaming and


and worried and depressed and here you

are walking around the fire

here you are strutting around the fire

here you are moving around the fire

they messing with you at work and you

still walking

they criticizing you at work and you

still praising

they making it hard for you and you

still getting it on why because you know

you’re not by yourself


cause sometimes he wants you to see what

it’s like

when you’re in the fire with the lord

why why god why are you going to do this

look i need to walk with you i need to

walk with you walk with me

i want you to turn the first peter i

want to walk you through a series of


i want to walk you through a series of

you need to know these scriptures in

verse peter

to show you this is not just new old

testament this is new testament

he says in first peter a number of

scriptures that will

change your bad situation at work change

your bad situation at the company

when you have this kind of understanding

of a bad suffering season

in your life he says in first peter

chapter 2 verse 20

he says for what credit is there if when

you sin

you are harshly treated you endure it

with patience

but if when you do what is right and


for if you patiently endure this finds

favor with god so if you’re doing right

and taking your stand you’re making god


and you’re finding favor with god even

though you’re suffering

look at chapter 3 verse 14. he says

but even if you should suffer for the

sake of righteousness

you are blessed and do not fear their

intimidation i don’t care who they are

or what their title is don’t be scared

of their intimidation

and do not be troubled just because they

talk and smack

and talk and noise if you’re suffering

for righteousness verse 17

for it is better if god should will it


that you suffer for doing what is right

rather than

doing what is wrong finally he says in

chapter 5 verse 10

after you have suffered for a little

while the god of all grace

who called you by his eternal glory in

christ will himself perfect

confirm strengthen and establish you

to him be the dominion he gonna call the

final shot

he gonna say where this job situation

works out whether there

or somebody else because remember your

job your government is only your


it is not your source

some of you remember my story when i was

in seminary

working at trailways i was loading and


buses they came to me because they had a


the scam was when people went out for


then somebody else would punch him in

after an hour

even though they may stay out three or

four hours and hadn’t been punched in

and so you rotate it and somebody did

that for you you did that for somebody


they came and said to me well here’s the

deal this is how you do it this is your


to punch somebody else in after an hour

even though they’ll be gone

three hours and then somebody will do

that for you in other words rob the

company of time and money

and and what’s going on so i told him i

said i can’t do that because as a


that that that stealing and that’s not

something i can do

and they said oh no you don’t understand

everybody does it

it’s the way we roll up in here so you

got you got to expect you can’t be an


everybody does it let’s let’s get over

this christian stuff

and and this is how we do it in the

company i said i’m so sorry respectfully

you know i i can’t do that well they

said well since you can’t do that you’re

gonna be unloading a lot of these

buses by yourself when the buses came in

i wind up having to unload a lot of them

by myself because they wouldn’t help me

because i didn’t conform to what they

were asking me to do that was clearly


with the company this went on for weeks

and weeks and weeks i’m discouraged

i’m depressed and i have that same

attitude that we all have some time

god why are you letting this happen to

me when i’m trying to be

i’m trying to be fair to you a number of

months later

i got a call the calling was to come to


to the owner’s office or the manager’s

office for trailways

i went in the manager’s office he said

to me

we’ve been having a night supervisor

come around at night

to see what was going on with the night

shift we are very aware

of this this scheme that they’re doing

of punching people in

when they really haven’t come back we’re

also aware

that you were not a participant so what

we would like to do is make you

manager of the whole ship now i didn’t


somebody was watching i didn’t know

there was a fourth person in the fire

i didn’t know that something else was

going on

but you have to understand that when god

decides to promote you

it doesn’t matter what men say to you

so it’s time for us to take a stand a

man was on an island one day

and he got he got shipwrecked on his

island and nobody was there he was out

there by himself

and he wasn’t well how was he going to

survive on this island he put some

sticks together to make a little hut

to keep him away from the inclement

weather and he got in that hulk

but through a series of event the hut

caught on fire

so the hut is on fire he’s on his

isolated island

a few days later a boat comes to deliver

him from the island he said well how did

you know i was on the island

oh they said it was simple we saw the

smoke signals you were sending up

to let us know you were here sometimes

god lets you catch fire

but it’s really a smoke signal saying to

god god here’s where i

am and even though i’m in a fire i know

you know

where i’m located so i want you to go

back to work tomorrow

and serve the lord christ i want you to

go back to work tomorrow

and be a christian on your job serving

with excellence

serving the lord but knowing the lord

knows where you’re sitting

he knows how long he wants you there he

knows when it’s time to move

and he knows the bills that you have to

pay and says he is your source

and everything else is your resource you

can lift your head up high

and even if the rest of the folk don’t

like you on the job

you just find you a mesh a shadow rack

and a bendigo

and you take your stand for god because


ultimately owns the company let’s give

him some praise

in the midst of your problems





as often says we live in a dog-eat-dog

world you know you have to

climb over somebody else to get to the

top or to get to the next level

that you think you ought to be in your

career or

in your resources or in your

significance or in your

importance but ultimate promotion

comes from god in fact the scripture

says promotion comes from the north that


from heaven’s involvement in history the

best way

to get to the next level and to get

there the right way

is to have god involved in your


to have god involved in taking you from

where you are

to the next stage of where you ought to

be and guess what

god’s promotion usually comes in the

midst of

or coming out of a test tests

are designed to take us to the next

level just like in school

you took a test midterm final in order

to be promoted to the next grade

so the next time you’re being tested

your faith is being challenged

and you decide to stick with god and do

it his way

keep your eyes open for the promotion

man may give you a pink slip

but god knows how to change the color

and give

you something that you’ll look back on

and say thank you god for the trial

because through it

you’ve taken me to a level i could have

never gotten to

on my own