Dr. Tony Evans is the founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, founder and president of The Urban Alternative, chaplain of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, and author of over 100 books, booklets & Bible studies. His radio broadcast, The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, can be heard on more than 1,300 US outlets daily and in more than 130 countries.

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 your simple

he knows how long he wants you down he

knows when it’s time to move and he

knows the bills that have to place and

says he is your sauce and everything

else is your resource



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

higher level in our story today from

Daniel chapter 3 a promotion is going to

take place

meshach Shadrach and Abednego 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 comfortable

but that’s okay because the more

uncomfortable it is the better

possibility for a divine encounter let’s

start with the backdrop of the story

meshach Shadrach and Abednego find

themselves working in a secular culture

there in Babylon Babylon is an evil

pagan an idolatrous country because of

Israel’s sin God told Babylon to 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 Israel to Babylon and

now they have to live their life and do

work in a non-christian 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 worldview 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 unrighteous environment

that was the three Hebrew boys they

found themselves working for the federal


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 were 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 D israel iz’ them

and pro babylon eyes 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 boys

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 money where we have to live and

function and or the people we have to be

around because 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

when the environment that you’re in is

trying to woo you away from your faith

as colleges do with you and me and and

our children and as the society does

with people of God

so that’s the situation that’s the

circumstance that they find themselves


well something happens in the beginning

of the chapter chapter 3 Nebuchadnezzar

the head of Babylon develops a Pheo ego

Theo is God ego is is your mindset

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 6 whoever does not fall

down and worship shall immediately be

cast into the midst of a furnace of

blazing fire ok watch this now the issue

balls around one thing

who you gonna worship it says he built a

statue 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 and Idol as any now person place

thing or thought that becomes your

source so any person place thing or

thought that becomes your source has now

become your God anything that competes

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 they often ask us to

compromise biblical values in order to

be accepted or in order to be promoted

so Shadrach Meshach and Abednego found

themselves in a dilemma and their career

was on the line 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 charges against the Jews

so some Babylonians brought charges

against the Jews they like the Jews they

didn’t want the Jews working at the

company and the Reeb they didn’t like

the Jews as 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 charges 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 to because of their faith so

these three Hebrew boys find themselves

on on a dilemma because now the

Babylonians who work with them their

co-workers come and say and play

politics you know politics is in the

office they come and play politics they

said oh oh Nebuchadnezzar you’ve got

these Jewish guys here and they won’t

bow oh that may come the work they do

their job but you told them the bow to

the company and they’re not bowing to

the company they’ve not submitting to

the authority of the company so

Nebuchadnezzar when he finds out this

minority group

would not bow he said bring him here

verse 13 bring me Shadrach I’m gonna go

here and in verses 14 and 15 he says

imma give you all another chance and

then he asks 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 you out of

my hands now that’s the question the

question is I’m so powerful this company

is so strong this government 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 Abednego

responded to the king okay say 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 respectfully

we do not need to give you an answer

concerning this matter let us answer you

if so be our God 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 serve 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

serve the Lord in their job description


most Christians many Christians divorce

their everyday work from their service

of God and these three boys didn’t but

because we 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 in other words you never let

God’s nipple tense his power cancel out

his sovereignty 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 cuz

if you don’t have a theology that covers

when he doesn’t then you’re gonna 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

gonna work for you we are not going to

serve your gods or worship the golden

image that you have set up

thus it says in verse 19 then

Nebuchadnezzar was filled with wrath

filled with wrath and his facial

expression was altered okay it’s written

all over your face you don’t have to say

a word you know it’s just he’s contorted

his kentuc who do you think you’re

talking to

I’m kidding she’d said it respectfully

do you know who I hear guess what he

does he is so hot no pun intended he is

so hot he gave orders in verse 18 to

heat the furnace seven times more than

it was all

heated we’re talking about crispy here

let’s look at this seven is the number


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

cuz I’m gonna tell everybody else who

you are and what you do and and we’re

gonna I’m gonna get the word out I’m the

man you talking about you’re not gonna

bow cuz you got some other spiritual

commitment so the men who brought them

to the furnace the furnace was so hot it

burned them up Bible says the middle

brought him got burned up that’s how hot

it was they tied him up in verse 23 and

throw him into the midst of the furnace

still tied up so they tied up the hands

tied up their feet and throw him in God

didn’t deliver them from the furnace you

let him get fired but something happens

verse 24 then Nebuchadnezzar the king

was 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

meshach Shadrach and Abednego they

replied to the king well certainly King

we put three guys in there

he said well come in come in come come

in look through this glass look verse 25

I see four men loose and walkin around

in the midst of the fire without harm

and the appearance of the fourth is like

a son

oh the gods I can see that you could

preach right here he says we put in

three right yeah we put in three well

how come and when we tied them up right

okay well why am I seeing four so so if

we put in 3 y 4 and Haley walking around

when we tied him up and no crispy no

nobody burnt nobody ok what is sometimes

when God wants to give you an encounter

with him sometimes he takes you out of


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

like when you’re in the fire and not

being burned by the fire you are 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 Jesco join you in it but when he

takes you from it or joins you in it you

have an encounter with the Living God

cuz you’re supposed to be all shook up

all tied up all screaming and hollering

and worried and depressed and here you

are walking around the fire he are

strutting around the fire he are moving

around the fire they messing with you at

work and you still walk in they

criticizing you at work

are you still praising they making it

hard for you then you still get it all

why cuz you know you’re not by yourself


the 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 gonna

do this look I need to walk with you I

need to walk with you what what with me

I want you to turn the first Pete I want

to walk you through a series of

scriptures I want to walk into services

you need to know these scriptures in

first Peter to show you this is not just

new 10th Old Testament this is New

Testament he says in 1st 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

1st 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 suffer for if you patiently

endure this finds favor with God so if

you doing right and taking your stand

you’re making God happy 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


I’ll give who they are or what the title

is don’t be scared of their intimidation

and do not be trouble just because they

talk and smack and talking noise if

you’re suffering for righteousness verse

17 for it is better if God should will

it so 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 beat the Dominion

he won’t call the final shot he won’t

say where

this job situation works out whether

there or somebody else because remember

your job your government is only your

resource it is not your source some of

you remember my story when I was in

seminary working at railways I was

loading and unloading buses they came to

me because they had a scam the scam was

when people went out for lunch 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 rotated and

somebody did that for you you did that

for somebody else they came and said to

me well here’s the deal this is how you

do it this is your day 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 robbed a company of time and money

and and and what’s going on so I told

her I said I can’t do that because I was

a Christian that that’s stealing and and

that’s not something I can do and they

said oh no you understand everybody does

it it’s the way we roll up in here so

you got you gotta expect you can’t be an

exception 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 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 wound up having to unload a

lot of them by myself cuz they wouldn’t

help me because I didn’t conform to what

they were asking me to do that was

clearly unbiblical with the company this

went off for weeks and weeks and weeks

I’m discouraged I’m depressed I’m

frustrated because this has been thrown

on me and I have that same attitude that

we all have sometimes 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

the to the owners 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 know

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 this island and

nobody was there he was out there by

himself and he wondered well how is he

gonna survival in this island he put

some sticks together to make a little

Hut to keep him away from me and climate

weather and he got in that hump but

through a series of events the Hut

caught on fire

so the Hut is on fire he’s on this

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

you 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 the

guard guard 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 me Shack a

Shadrach and Abednego and you take your

stands for God because God ultimately

owns the company let’s give him some


in the midst of your product



divine encounters often happens in the

midst of struggle and that’s when God

wants to give us an encounter to change


for example Jacob was trickster he lived

his life through conniving tricking

people and it caught up with him just

like our character flaws catch up with


but even then in our mess God performs

miracles he creates a struggle a

struggle that binds us and ties us up

and won’t let us go and God is right in

the midst of the struggle because the

angel of God came and wrestled with

Jacob all night long until he got his

name changed the changing of names in

the Bible is a shifting of character he

went from this trickster to a person who

God helped but something had to get

dislocated first the God dislocated his

hip because he had to walk with the limp

as a perpetual reminder that he wrestled

with God and God will wrestle with us

until he changes us and sometimes he

leaves and things behind and remind us

not to go back to the old character that

was damaging before but that’s good news

in a painful situation if you’re

struggling right now because something

needs to change

in your life or mine God is loving you

me enough to take us through the

struggle and he will keep the struggle

there until we get the message that

character flaws need to be changed

because he wants to conform us to the

image of Jesus Christ so rather than

getting mad at the struggle or the limp

I want you to praise God

that he loved you enough to put you in

the struggle in order to change your

character because once he changed Jacobs

character he became useful he became

productive and he is found in the New

Testament as a hero and not as a faith

so your yesterday character flaws don’t

have to be your tomorrow’s definition

because once God gives you an encounter

of struggle that changes you then he can

use you for his world the advancement of

his kingdom and the improvement of the

lives and in the lives of others